The Court of Appeals of Kentucky has upheld a lower court’s decision that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is partially responsible for the death of a 19-year-old driver who was struck and killed by a passing train after he exited a construction zone.
The appeals court on Friday upheld a decision in Jefferson Circuit Court that had upheld a state tort finding that the Transportation Cabinet, the state highway agency, is 20% responsible for the March 29, 2016, fatal crash that killed Zavier Froeber in Bullitt County, Kentucky.
Mr. Froeber was on his way to work when his vehicle was struck by a train after he left a work zone manned by flaggers controlling traffic.
Mr. Froeber̵7;s estate filed a claim with the Indemnity Board, alleging that state workers were negligent in establishing the work zone because it obstructed Mr. Froeber’s view of the oncoming train.
An interrogator found that the Transportation Cabinet was 20% responsible for Mr. Froeber’s death and the compensation board subsequently upheld the decision.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the award of $191,630, which represented 20% of Froeber’s estimated future earning capacity of $956,800.
The Court of Appeal ruled that the state agency had a duty to warn motorists of an approaching train and that its construction equipment that obstructed visibility served as a distraction to drivers.
The appellate panel agreed with the lower court that the failure to warn motorists of the train was a violation of an “absolute, certain and imperative duty.”