Texarkana, TX 75° Fri H 88° L 71° Sat H 85° L 69° Sun H 88° L 72° Weather Sponsored By:

Family of woman killed at mill sues rail car company

Family of woman killed at mill sues rail car company

May 15th, 2016 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News

A woman was killed in a train accident Sept. 18, 2015, at Domtar's Ashdown, Ark., plant. Velma Marie Perkins, 52, died Sept. 18 when a Kiamichi Railroad car crashed into an overhead structure that collapsed. The family is suing the rail car company.

Photo by Joshua Boucher /Texarkana Gazette.

The family of a woman killed in an accident last year at Domtar's Ashdown, Ark., plant is suing a company that provides rail cars to the mill.

Velma Marie Perkins, 52, died Sept. 18 when a Kiamichi Railroad car crashed into an overhead structure that collapsed, knocking her to the track, according to a complaint filed on behalf of her husband, Ronald Perkins Jr., and the couple's three children by Little Rock lawyer Thomas McGowan. The complaint was initially filed in Little River County, Ark., Circuit Court in March. Last week, Kiamichi's lawyers removed the case to federal court in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas.

Kiamichi's general manager in Ashdown declined to comment.

The suit alleges Kiamichi, which contracts with Domtar to provide railroad cars used to ship the company's products, delivered cars—including the one Velma Perkins was using—which were taller than any cars previously used at the mill either on that day or in the days before Velma Perkins was killed.

Little River County Coroner Roddy Smith estimated Velma Perkins had already died when the first call for help was received at 8:10 a.m. Sept 18 by Little River County Sheriff's Office, according to earlier reports. An ambulance arrived about 10 minutes later, but there was nothing paramedics could do. Perkins was an equipment helper on the switch engine in the shipping department and had worked for Domtar since 1991.

The suit accuses Kiamichi of negligence and seeks to recover damages for wrongful death, compensatory damages including funeral expenses and punitive damages meant to deter future similar conduct.

In an answer Kiamichi filed April 29 in state court, the railroad company denies any wrongdoing. The answer, filed on Kiamichi's behalf by Little Rock lawyer Joseph McKay, claims liability for Velma Perkins' death cannot be placed squarely on Kiamichi and that if blame is to be assigned, Velma Perkins herself and Domtar should be found at fault.

Domtar spokeswoman Tammy Waters said the company will not comment on pending litigation.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey. No hearings are scheduled.


Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com