Dec 19, 2019

Matt Hughes' Lawsuit: A Legal Perspective


Does He Have a Strong Case?

Angelinos are no stranger to train wrecks. But when an MMA champ gets in a wreck it highlights the risks to fans and the sport. Former MMA champ Matt Hughes is a changed man. In most ways, much for the worse. Hughes was involved in a near-fatal train crash in 2017. It severely injured both his body and brain. As a result, his career is over and his life turned upside down.

Recently, Hughes announced that he is suing the train operator responsible for the crash.

MMA Fighting had a good write up of the situation. Hughes alleges that the Norfolk Southern Railway was negligent by not warning motorists of dangerous conditions at the railway crossing. It was at this location that Hughes' Chevy Z71 truck collided with the truck. According to the suit, Hughes alleges that NS did not place appropriate warning signs at the site. Even worse, he alleges that NS knew of the potential danger beforehand and did not act. Furthermore, Hughes stated that he was driving lawfully before the crash. The collision resulted in severe physical damage and a traumatic brain injury.

On the other hand, the railway believes it is not at fault. Norfolk Southern stated that the crash was Hughes' fault. The company stated that Hughes failed to stop prior to the crossing. Furthermore, NS states that Hughes did not see the train oncoming and failed to yield the right of way. The company goes so far in their rebuttal to state that Hughes "knowingly drove his vehicle onto a railroad grade crossing" and was using his cell phone.

This also isn't the first major lawsuit NS faced recently. The company was sued in a wrongful death case in Virginia. All of the facts are not yet in, although I've been following this one closely. Mr. Hughes has a strong case. In many ways, even if NS's assertions are partially true, it is likely that it did not create a safe railway crossing.

If the company knew that there was a potential danger and did not place adequate signage at the site, it was a major and avoidable error. In this way, it likely meets the definition of strict liability. I'm not sure if Matt Hughes will win his suit. However, we will be reporting on it and any developments here.

Practice Area Information