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Can Family Sue? CA Vagrant Throws Old Woman Into Oncoming Train

Can Family Sue? CA Vagrant Throws Old Woman Into Oncoming Train


Can Family Sue? CA Vagrant Throws Old Woman Into Oncoming Train

The answer is maybe, and an actual train accident attorney in California will explain why. The family of 74-year-old Corazon Dandan, who tragically lost her life after a homeless man pushed a 74-year-old woman into a Millbrae bound train. This was at a downtown San Francisco station, and this article is for the family who might be exploring their legal options, maybe even against BART Police.

It appears evident that safety concerns related to dangerous vagrants at train stations, particularly by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), have been an ongoing issue. When a woman dies like this, can the family hold the train company accountable for the homicide?

What about suing the Powell Street Station BART system? At the outset, the transient will likely be charged with criminal elder abuse, assuming he is booked at all. Knowing Gavin Newsom and his prosecutors, San Francisco County Jail has probably already released this killer.

And you can’t sue a vagrant with no money, right? So that leaves the survivor’s representative to sue for the killing, but who? Here are your options to begin the investigation: the train company, government agencies, or someone responsible for security. So the answer is you may be able to sue someone over the murder, says California train accident attorney Michael Ehline.

In cases of wrongful death, certain key elements must be established: 

  • Duty of Care: BART investigators had a duty to ensure the safety of its passengers, including maintaining a secure environment at its stations.
  • Breach of Duty: The presence of a dangerous vagrant who managed to push Dandan onto the tracks could be seen as a breach of this duty.
  • Causation: The breach must have directly led to the injury and subsequent death of Dandan.
  • Damages: The family must show the quantifiable impact of Dandan’s death, such as emotional distress, medical expenses, and loss of income.

“With a proven track record, Ehline Law Firm has secured millions for families of wrongful death train accident victims,” says Michael Ehline, the founder. “We understand the pain and suffering that comes from losing a loved one and are dedicated to holding negligent entities accountable.”


Duty of Care

The train company had an obligation to ensure a safe environment for its passengers. Breach of Duty The breach could involve inadequate security measures to prevent unauthorized access by dangerous individuals.


There must be a direct link between the train company’s breach of duty and the fatal incident.

Damages Dandan’s family can claim financial losses, emotional suffering, and punitive damages.

Legal precedents for suing a train company in wrongful death cases involving third-party actions often revolve around foreseeability and duty of care. Train companies, much like authorities, carry the legal obligation of ensuring passenger safety. This duty entails taking reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable harm, even if such harm comes from third parties, such as vagrants or criminals. 

Case Law

A key precedent in this area is the case of Weirum v. RKO General, Inc. (1975), where the California Supreme Court held that a radio station could be held liable for the wrongful death of a motorist caused by a reckless driver incited by a radio contest. The court underscored the foreseeability of harm and the duty to avoid creating unreasonable risks. 

In Lopez v. Southern California Rapid Transit District (1985), the California Supreme Court ruled a public transit authority could be liable for injuries from third-party criminal acts. The court emphasized the role of foreseeability and the obligation to maintain a safe passenger environment. 

Another significant case is Delta Airlines, Inc. v. August (1981), in which the U.S. Supreme Court discussed an airline’s responsibility to protect passengers from foreseeable harm, including third-party actions. Although this case involved an airline, the principles of duty of care and foreseeability are also highly relevant to train companies. 


Train companies might present several defenses in wrongful death cases involving third-party actions. One common defense is the lack of foreseeability, arguing that the criminal act was unpredictable and, therefore, couldn’t have been reasonably prevented. Another defense is contributory negligence, where the company claims that the victim’s actions contributed to the incident. 

Train companies might invoke the defense of an intervening cause, contending that the third party’s criminal act was an independent, unforeseeable event that breaks the chain of causation, thereby absolving the company of liability. They may point to compliance with industry standards and regulations as proof of reasonable measures to ensure passenger safety. 

Ultimately, the success of a wrongful death claim involving third-party actions hinges on specifics. This includes the foreseeability of the harm, the measures the company took to prevent such damage, and the legal arguments from both sides.

What Defenses Are Available to Train Companies in Injury Cases?

BART may rely on several defenses to mitigate its liability. For one thing, police have no duty to protect individuals, so it is doubtful suing the police would work. As to the other potential defendants, they could argue the unforeseeability of Belmont’s actions, claiming that erratic behavior is challenging to stop despite reasonable security measures. Additionally, BART might assert that they had protocols like surveillance and station patrols to prevent such tragedies. 

Contributory or Comparative Negligence

  • Contributory Negligence: In some areas, if a plaintiff is even slightly at fault for their injuries, they might not be able to recover any damages.
  • Comparative Negligence: In other jurisdictions, a plaintiff’s compensation may be reduced according to their percentage of fault.

There are two types: 

Pure Comparative Negligence: Under this rule, such as in California, a plaintiff can recover damages even if they are 99% at fault, but their percentage of fault will reduce their recovery.

  • Modified Comparative Negligence: In this case, a plaintiff can only recover if they are less than 50% or 51% at fault, depending on the state.

Assumption of Risk

The defense might argue that the plaintiff voluntarily assumed known risks associated with being in a dangerous area filled with homeless individuals. For example, if someone crosses a railroad track with clear warnings, the train company might claim the person assumed the risk. 

Preemption by Federal Law

Train companies could argue that federal regulations, like those under the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), preempt state laws, shielding them from liability if they comply with federal standards. 

Statute of Limitations

The defense might assert that the plaintiff’s claim is time-barred if not filed within the legal timeframe allowed for these cases. 

Lack of Causation

The train company could argue that another factor caused the plaintiff’s injuries, not its actions or negligence. 

Compliance with Regulations

Demonstrating compliance with safety regulations and standards can be a defense against negligence claims by the train company. 

Sovereign Immunity

If the train company operates under government authority, it might invoke sovereign immunity, thus barring certain types of lawsuits unless the government consents. 

Act of God

The train company might claim that an unavoidable natural event, like an earthquake or severe weather, caused the injury, which they could not have reasonably anticipated or prevented. 

Third-Party Fault

The company could argue that a third party, such as another vehicle driver or the manufacturer of train parts, was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. 

Employee’s Scope of Employment

If an employee’s actions caused the injury, the train company might argue that the employee acted outside their employment scope.

Passenger Misconduct

The train company could claim that the plaintiffs’ misconduct, such as ignoring safety warnings or engaging in risky behavior, led to their injuries. Here, the decedent’s nephew Alvin Dandan told police she was returning home from a shift as a telephone operator at the Parc 55 hotel. Alvin Dandan is a doctor in St. Louis and credits his aunt with helping him through medical school

Dandan’s tragic death underscores the persistent issues in California. While the homelessness crisis is a longstanding issue the state struggles to address— 28 percent of the nation’s homeless reside here—the crime problem should be more manageable. 

Belmont, Dandan’s alleged murderer, was a turnstile jumper. He did not have a ticket to ride BART and should not have been on the platform path in the first place. Law-abiding individuals typically don’t jump turnstiles; those with unlawful behavior usually do. 

In a broader sense, under California’s justice system and punishment, criminals are considered victims, and district attorneys are urged to show compassion rather than enforce the law. If you know someone who died as the result of illegal immigration assaults, homeless criminals, or another issue, you know California needs scrutiny.

Holding the California Leviathan Accountable

Police were interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance video last Tuesday. We hope to see that footage soon. Understanding the various defenses available to train companies that night is crucial as Dandan’s family navigates a wrongful death lawsuit.

Seeking legal action could bring about some measure of justice and help prevent similar tragedies. We hope the arrested individual pays for their crime if guilty. And we encourage the family to investigate the head-on collision death and help give California an education in the process.


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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.