"I liked Greg right away. He was warm and sincere. He assured me he would take a proactive approach to find out everything he could about the accident."
Brian Vann Estate of Brian Vann v. Union Pacific Railroad, et al,
Meg Vann was doing the dishes at the kitchen sink, thinking her husband would be home any minute. He and a friend had gone fishing on the Columbia and should have returned to the Vanns’ Portland home much earlier. Now it was just past 10 p.m., and she saw a state police cruiser pull up in front of the house.
The tragic news
The officer had bad news for Meg and her two young daughters. Their 34-year-old husband and father, Brian Vann, had been killed when an oncoming Union Pacific train crashed into the pickup in which Brian was a passenger.
The train, traveling at an estimated 51 mph, smashed into the passenger side of the truck. Brian was declared dead at the scene.
In the days following Brian’s death, representatives of the railroad came to visit Meg. “They expressed sympathy, but they weren’t taking responsibility,” recalls Meg. She felt there had to be more to what happened than was readily apparent and decided to talk to an attorney. Her mother had used Greg Zeuthen at one time so Meg contacted him.
“I liked Greg right away,” Meg says. “He was warm and sincere. He assured me he would take a proactive approach to find out everything he could about the accident. I was especially impressed that he asked what he could do to help the girls and me.” One thing that Zeuthen did immediately was grapple with the Vanns’ own insurance company to make sure the surviving family members would receive all the benefits they had coming.
Railroad’s negligence proven; out of court settlement reached.
Through Zeuthen, Vann began to learn more about the circumstances of her husband’s death. The RR crossing where Brian was hit was particularly dangerous. There were no flashing lights or gates to warn motorists of an oncoming train. Vehicles approaching the crossing from the boat landing traveled on a loose gravel pitted roadway. The steepness and narrowness of the roadway were greater than the railroad’s own standards allowed. Bushes and trees at the crossing obscured the view of an oncoming train. And the train that hit Brian failed to slow down as it approached what was known to be a hazardous crossing. Zeuthen put together a case showing a great deal of negligence on the part of the railroad in the death of Brian Vann.
“Greg did an excellent job keeping me informed as the case went along,” states Meg. “I didn’t need to know every detail at every step. I trusted him. I knew he was always following up on things. I knew that when decisions had to be made he would let me know.”
Zeuthen arranged for a mediation session with the attorney for the railroad. Through that process, an out of court settlement was reached to help secure the future for Meg and her two daughters.
“I think Greg was exactly the right lawyer for me,” Meg Vann says. “I felt this way during the case and I feel this way right now — if I ever called him and said, ‘I really need your help,’ he’d be here right away. He’s that kind of person.”