Is the ''Standing Train Doctrine'' Applicable to Accidents Involving Moving Trains ?
In Brown v. Brown v. Loftin, 154 Fla. 621, 18 So. 2d 540 (1944), the Court addressed the question of whether the doctrine encompassed accidents with moving trains.
The plaintiff in Brown drove her automobile into the seventeenth car of a thirty-two car freight train while it traversed a street crossing.
The trial court, relying on Kimball and its progeny, dismissed the plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action.
The plaintiff argued that the rule of Kimball and subsequent cases was limited to accidents with standing trains.
In Brown the Court found such a distinction unavailing, applying the doctrine and affirming the trial court's dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint.
Despite Brown's affirmation and extension of the doctrine, this Court gradually eroded the unforgiving approach of the earlier cases.
Instead it began to consider the allegations of special circumstances previously deemed irrelevant. In Goff v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 53 So. 2d 777, 779 (Fla. 1951), this Court distinguished Brown on the grounds that the accident involved a car and a train simultaneously approaching a crossing:
In the instant case, the facts are clearly distinguishable from those in Brown . . . . In Brown, the train was fully occupying the crossing at the time such crossing came within the range of vision of the driver of the automobile; in the instant case, the train and the automobile were simultaneously approaching the crossing, which could not have been fully occupied by the train more than a few seconds prior to the impact and, it appears, not until some time after the crossing itself (as distinguished from the approach thereto) was within the range of vision of the driver.
Under such circumstances, we do not think the "standing train doctrine" is applicable.