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Train driver sues parents of suicide victim

The Local · 27 Jul 2011, 10:48

Published: 27 Jul 2011 10:48 GMT+02:00

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The legal hearing on the dispute was held in a court in Nuremberg on Tuesday, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.

The 52-year-old driver has ceded his complaint to his wife, who is appearing as the plaintiff, so the driver himself can appear as a witness.

The wife initially asked for €15,000 compensation. She says her husband has suffered nightmares, sleep disturbances and headaches since the incident. Additionally, he was unable to work for two weeks after the accident.

The dead man's parents, who are not appearing in court, are still grieving, their lawyer Julian Rösch said.

“They can’t do anything about it. They have been affected and punished enough.”

The parents, Klaus and Martha S., believe their 20-year-old son Stefan, was the victim of an accident, rather than a suicide, when he was struck and killed by the train in January 2009.

Stefan was hit by the train at about 1 am near the Rehdorf train station just west of Nuremberg. The driver had no chance of stopping, as is usually the case in such incidents. According to investigation documents, the driver thought he had hit a wild boar and continued driving.

On his return along the same route, he checked the scene and this time thought he had hit a deer. Only on his third pass of the site of the incident did he realise he was looking at the body of a person. He alerted a colleague, who finally discovered Stefan’s body.

Since January 2011, the driver had come to terms with the incident and returned to a normal life, his wife’s lawyer Stephan Baumann said. But for two years he had suffered “the most serious problems” coping with everyday life. The image of the young man haunted him.

Judge Jana Lux said the damages amount was too high and suggested €3,000 to €5,000 was more fitting. The driver’s wife accordingly lowered it to €5,000 and the driver said he was amenable to that.

Story continues below…

“I have no desire to go through the whole thing again,” he said.

Stefan’s parents now have two weeks to decide whether to accept the settlement or fight on. Their lawyer Rösch said that was still “a heap of money” to compensate two weeks off work.

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:38 July 27, 2011 by William Thirteen
wouldn't the driver & his wife have to somehow prove that the parents of the young man were negligent and thereby contributed to his suicide? But frankly, how incredibly tacky can they get?
14:42 July 27, 2011 by vonSchwerin
This is really messed up. I am sympathetic to this man for the psychological trauma he is suffering, but has he no sense of decency?
15:37 July 27, 2011 by taiwanluthiers
This isn't unusual. Some countries have laws in place where if someone commits suicide using the railway system, the person (if they survive) or their families may be liable for psychological damages to the driver, or money lost due to train delays.

The fact is when someone does this everyone who uses the train suffers because of massive delays.
16:32 July 27, 2011 by catjones
and the U.S. is the litigation capital?
17:16 July 27, 2011 by michael4096
It's a shame there is nowhere other than the law to turn.

The problem with suicide by train is a real one for the drivers.
17:33 July 27, 2011 by jbaker
Suicides occur because people feel trapped within our controlled society and have not found a way to escape it other than death. It is sad to see anyone kill themselves or someone else.

My prayers go out the the young man,his parents and the train driver.
18:21 July 27, 2011 by Gretl
Right there with you, catjones.

taiwanluthiers - and? Someone DIED because the world didn't care. Obviously, you are good example of the cold-hearted nature of the world out there.

At 20 years old, wasn't he an adult? Why should his parents be financially penalized for the actions of another adult? Sue the estate of the late suicide victim if you are so crass. And using the arguements raised on the Local everytime the death penalty is discussed - how is this going to deter other would be suicide victims? I can't feel terribly sorry for the driver if it took three passes for him to figure out he hit a human. Doesn't DB or workman's comp insurance cover the expenses of therapy?

Sh*t happens in life. What makes you entitled to sue over it?
18:46 July 27, 2011 by Jibzy
"Sh*t happens in life. What makes you entitled to sue over it? "

This should be a bumper sticker.
20:38 July 27, 2011 by Scuba Steve
Raising the Bullsh*t Flag here.... Life sucks...a terrible thing happened...so punishing his grief stricken parents will help you and your "Ambulance Chaser" how?
07:53 July 28, 2011 by Landmine
Get over it... He's just trying to cash in on it. It should be him that should pay if anyone should....
08:17 July 28, 2011 by duckys
and who says that Germans don't sue like the Americans!
15:51 July 28, 2011 by authun

Of course, he ain't suin' for two mil ... and getting it! (in a Western Texas courtroom)
18:02 July 28, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
I can't believe the driver has the audacity to sue over something like this. It's tacky and disrespectful, isn't it? I mean the man's poor parents have to cope with their son being dead, and this train driver wants money from them. From a legal stance, there is no case, since no one can prove if it was an accident or not. Making the parents liable for such an event is a law that needs to be revised.
16:16 July 29, 2011 by Stuart1977
This is revolting and bitter.

Would money cure this man's distress?
04:28 August 2, 2011 by aLeGna
I find this really stupid and absurd. As someone else wrote, the driver may have had experienced psychological trauma or whatever, but surely the boy's parents have gone through the same, if not more. The parents lost a son. What did the driver lose? A couple of week's work money, some good sleep? He can always make up for those losses, but the parents can never bring back the life of their son.

This "modern" world just keeps on baffling me in ways I never imagined it would.
17:19 August 10, 2011 by George Palmer
This proves that German law is even dafter than English law.
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