Raspente did move initially, as he stepped over the north rail and off the tracks. Hence, Springer had even more reason to believe that Raspente was getting out of the way. Springer had no reason to know that Raspente was under the influence of alcohol and medication and suffered from mental illness.
After Raspente stepped over the rail, however, he stopped and made no further effort to move. Springer then realized that Raspente was not going to get out of the way and he threw the train into emergency. See Alba, 611 N.Y.S.2d at 197 ("The engineer has no duty to make an emergency stop until he determines that the person cannot or will not remove himself from harm's way. . . .") (citation omitted). At that point, of course, several seconds had gone by and again it was too late -- there was nothing that Springer could have done to avoid the accident. Cf. Hayes v. New York, 80 Misc. 2d 385, 362 N.Y.S.2d 994, 997 (N.Y. Ct. Cl. 1974).
Under these circumstances and on this record, no reasonable jury could find that Springer or Amtrak breached the duty to use reasonable care.
C. My Prior Denial of Defendants' Motion
After the first trial, I denied defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law because I determined that a jury could have reasonably found that Raspente was 1,800 feet away, because of Springer's testimony that Raspente was six catenaries away and the parties' stipulation that a catenary length was approximately 300 feet. Since the speed of 46 miles per hour is the equivalent of 67 feet per second, and since it would have taken the train 26.6 seconds to travel 1,800 feet at 67 feet per second, I concluded that the jury could have found that Springer was some 26 seconds away from Raspente when he first saw him, and that Springer was negligent because he should have determined more quickly that Raspente was not going to get out of the way.
At the second trial, however, the only evidence of the distance between catenaries was Springer's testimony that a catenary length was 150 feet. Hence, the jury could only have concluded that Raspente was some 900 feet -- rather than 1,800 feet -- away when Springer first saw him.
Moreover, Levine testified that the distance from the first catenary west of the bridge to Milepost 15 was 1,761 feet. Since Springer's unrebutted testimony was that he had taken the train out of the curve at the time of the incident, the length of the train (800 feet) must be deducted from the 1,761 feet. That leaves approximately 961 feet, which, again, is an insufficient distance in which to stop. When one factors in the time that it reasonably required Springer to realize that Raspente was not going to get fully out of the way -- after Raspente had started getting out of the way -- it is clear that Springer did not have enough time to stop the train before hitting Raspente.
This testimony also makes it clear that, even assuming a catenary length was 300 feet -- and that Springer was wrong about a catenary length being 150 feet -- he was also wrong about Raspente being six or seven catenaries away when he first saw him. Indeed, the physical evidence shows that Springer's testimony at the first trial that he was approximately three 300-foot catenary lengths away (as he testified at the first trial after having realized that his deposition testimony was mistaken) is correct. Whether Springer was six 150-foot catenary lengths or three 300-foot catenary lengths away, he was roughly 900 feet away when he first saw Raspente. That distance is consistent with Levine's testimony, if one allows for the train having cleared the curve.
With the benefit of this further analysis, my initial denial of defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings was incorrect, for taking into account Levine's testimony, Springer's unrebutted testimony that he had cleared the curve, and the aerial photograph, Springer could not have been six to seven catenary lengths away from Raspente if a catenary length is indeed 300 feet. Even assuming my initial analysis was correct, however, defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law must be granted on the basis of the record of the second trial, for the jury could only find that a catenary length was 150 feet.
Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law is granted. The Clerk of the Court shall enter judgment dismissing the complaint with prejudice.
Dated: New York, New York
May 6, 1996
United States District Judge