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Estate of Lopez v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

April 6, 2009

ESTATE OF BRYAN ARMENTA LOPEZ, ETC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION HAMILTON CONE; BURLINGTON ("AMTRAK"); CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION; STANISLAUS COUNTY; NORTHERN SANTA FE CORPORATION; CITY OF RIVERBANK; AND JOHN DOES 1 TO 200, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

SCHEDULING CONFERENCE ORDER Discovery Cut-Off: 3/17/10 Filing Deadline: 4/2/10 Non-Dispositive Motion Dispositive Motion Filing Deadline: 4/19/10 Settlement Conference Date: 3/31/10 10:30 Ctrm. 10 Pre-Trial Conference Date: 6/28/10 11:00 Ctrm. 3 Trial Date: 8/10/10 9:00 Ctrm. 3 (JT-10 days)

I. Date of Scheduling Conference. April 3, 2009.

III. Summary of Pleadings

1. At the intersection of Claribel Road and Terminal Avenue in an unincorporated section of the County of Stanislaus, there is a four-way stop sign. Approximately 45 feet west of the stop sign for the eastbound lane of Claribel Road, there is a railroad grade crossing, where a single track of BNSF's Stockton Subdivision crosses Claribel Road, heading in a north-south direction. The railroad crossing is equipped with train-activated warning devices, including, but not limited to, mast mounted flashing lights, gongs, and crossing gates.

2. On or about May 8, 2007, Maricruz Corral was traveling eastbound on Claribel Road in a Chevrolet Tracker owned by Lucio Corral Rodriguez. Amongst others, decedents Diana Villareal-Lopez, Ramona Lopez-Verduga, and Brian Armenta-Lopez (hereinafter collectively "decedents") were passengers in the vehicle. As Maricruz Corral approached the railroad grade crossing on Claribel Road, just west of Terminal Avenue, there were cars backed up behind the stop sign at the intersection of Claribel Road and Terminal Avenue. Maricruz Corral pulled up behind the stopped cars and stopped her car on the tracks, despite the presence of warnings to not stop thereon. As a train, owned by the State of California and operated by Amtrak, was approaching traveling in a northbound direction, Maricruz Corral failed to clear the tracks, and the train struck the vehicle. All of the vehicle's occupants died at the scene as a result of the collision. Defendants contend that Maricruz Corral's presence on the tracks and inability to clear the tracks were the result of her negligence.

3. Plaintiffs are heirs of the decedents and have brought claims against the County, Riverbank, BNSF, and Amtrak for dangerous conditions of land, and negligence.

IV. Orders Re Amendments To Pleadings

1. Plaintiffs' counsel has indicated that Defendants, California Public Utilities Commission and City of Riverbank, have been dismissed from the lawsuit without prejudice. Defendants, DOES 1 through 200, inclusive are HEREBY ORDERED DISMISSED, WITHOUT PREJUDICE, with the understanding that the provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 shall govern the joinder of parties and claims as may be justified by discovery and in accordance with the policies underlying Rule 15. The Estate of Bryan Armenta Lopez is ORDERED DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Estate of Ramona Lopez Verdugo is ORDERED DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

V. Factual Summary

A. Admitted Facts Which Are Deemed Proven Without Further Proceedings

1. Bryan Armenta Lopez is deceased, as a result of the train collision that is the subject of this lawsuit.

2. Atilano Armenta Lopez is the biological father of Bryan Armenta Lopez.

3. Plaintiff Brenda Figueroa Lopez is the biological daughter of Ramona Lopez, who was also killed in the railroad accident.

4. Jesus Villareal and Aida Lopez Verdugo are the biological parents of decedent, Diana Villareal Lopez, who was also killed in the train accident.

5. Roberto Lopez Valenzuela, son of Jesus Villareal, was also killed in the railroad accident.

6. Roberto Lopez is the father of Ramona Lopez Verdugo who was killed in the railroad accident.

7. Rosario Verdugo is the wife of Roberto Lopez and the mother of decedent Ramona Lopez Verdugo.

8. Araceli Armenta Lopez is the adopted daughter of decedent Ramona Lopez Verdugo.

9. Plaintiff Julian Armenta Valenzuela is believed to be the husband of decedent Ramona Lopez Verdugo. This is a matter into which continuing investigation is being conducted.

10. At the intersection of Claribel Road and Terminal Avenue in an unincorporated section of the County of Stanislaus, there is a four-way stop sign.

11. Approximately 45 feet west of the stop sign of the eastbound lane of Claribel Road, there is a railroad grade crossing, where a single track of BNSF's Stockton Subdivision crosses Claribel Road, heading in a north-south direction.

12. The railroad crossing is equipped with train-activated warning devices, including, but not limited to, mast-mounted flashing lights, gongs and crossing gates.

13. On or about May 8, 2007, Maricruz Corral was traveling eastbound on Claribel Road in a Chevrolet Tracker owned by Lucio Corral Rodriguez.

14. Amongst others, decedents Diana Villareal-Lopez, Ramona Lopez-Verdugo, and Brian Armenta-Lopez were passengers in the vehicle.

15. As Maricruz Corral approached the railroad grade crossing on Claribel Road, just west of Terminal Avenue, there were cars backed up behind the stop sign at the intersection of Claribel Road and Terminal Avenue.

16. A train owned by the State of California, operated by Amtrak and traveling in a northbound direction ...


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