CONCORD, February 4, 2009 – After a delay of nearly four months, BART officials agreed to pay death benefits to the survivors of a 44-year-old BART employee who was struck and killed by a train while inspecting tracks last October.
James Strickland, an inspector for the S.F. Bay Area Rapid Transit District, was struck from behind by a train traveling 70 mph on Oct. 14, 2008 while performing a routine inspection on the tracks between the Concord and Pleasant Hill stations. At the time of the accident, BART had assigned trains that were headed in opposite directions to a shared track for routine maintenance.
Michael Gerson of Boxer & Gerson, the Oakland law firm representing the deceased’s widow , Linda Strickland, filed a request for a hearing with the State Workers’ Compensation Board on Jan. 30 seeking payment of the benefits, in addition to penalties for “unreasonable delays” on the part of BART. Attorneys for BART said this week that the agency would be providing the compensation to which his survivors are entitled under state Workers’ Compensation law, according to Michael Gerson. The payments will be retroactive to the date of Strickland’s death.
BART never disputed the fact that Strickland’s death was work-related, yet the company delayed payment of the benefits for four months, said Gerson. “There is no conceivable reason why the benefits to which the family is entitled should have been delayed since October,” said Gerson. “What should have been a cut-and-dried case was delayed for inexplicable reasons and caused hardships for Strickland’s surviving family.”