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Jury awards $13.1 million to man hit by train in 2012

MINOT, N.D. — A jury awarded a South Carolina man approximately $13.1 million last week in his lawsuit against BNSF Railway, said one of his lawyers, Steve Lautt of the Pringle and Herigstad Law Firm.

David Rentz, of Buford, S.C., was driving an 18-wheeler that was hit by an oncoming train at a rural railroad crossing outside Verendrye on July 13, 2012. Lautt said the jury determined that BNSF had neglected to cut down trees on its right of way. The vegetation obstructed Rentz's view and kept him from seeing the oncoming train. Lautt said the railroad violated its own rules regarding control of vegetation at railroad crossings.

"BNSF had decades to follow its own rules and remove the trees" said Lautt. "Dave only had seconds to see the train."

Rentz was critically injured and sustained multiple injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, shattered pelvis, shattered femur, a back broken in 12 places, internal bleeding, nerve damage and other injuries. Lautt said that Rentz experiences ongoing pain from his injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life.

The $13.1 million verdict covers past and future economic and non-economic damages, said Lautt.

Verendrye is about 35 miles southeast of Minot.