Does anyone remember a simple legal concept that they teach most business law students? It’s called ‘duty of care,’ and it means you have a responsibility to ensure your business does not harm others.
It’s quite a simple concept, but one that Montana Rail Link doesn’t seem to understand. I mean, just read this story about a drunk 22-year-old getting his foot crushed by a train and damn-near cut off!
Who’s running this company?
Montana Rail Link (MRL) first started in business as we know it today on Halloween, 1987. According to information on their website, which was compiled by Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian, MRL is a Class 2 railroad, which means it makes between $37.4 million and $433.2 million each year.
MRL has 900 miles of track, services 100 stations, and 1,000 employees in both Montana and Idaho. Missoula business magnate Dennis Washington owns the thing, having spun it off back in ’87 when Burlington Northern decided to firm up its operations.
President Tom Walsh first started at MRL as an accountant back in ’87. I’m sure he’s quite good with the books, but his safety record sucks. Yeah, I hate to say that – especially considering they’ve won safety awards before as well as being named Regional Railroad of the Year – but when you’ve got newspapers talking about a young guy getting his foot cut off?
MRL is lucky the state newspapers have a hard-on for Dennis Washington and his myriad business interests in the state, or else this shit would be getting some coverage, as it should.
I’m saddened that only the Independent feels the need to report this, and the flagrant safety violations that MRL allows on its property. Oh, I’m sorry, are holes in the fucking fence not safety violations? Considering the level-headed leaders we’ve got in our legislature, I’d imagine they’re not – you probably get a tax break for the damn things!
MRL needs to remember its duty of care and put up stronger fences, both to keep drunk idiots like this out, but also transients and misguided protesters. It’s that last group that’s most troubling.
We’ve got a lot of young people with too much time on their hands and not enough work to do, so they protest by train tracks. It might be better to organize and petition the legislature or browbeat President Walsh or Czar Washington, but they don’t think like that. So you know they’ll continue coming through the holes in the fence, or over it, or whatever.
Again, you have a duty of care to stop that shit. Papers like the Billings Gazette are going to continue to publish stories about protestors even if they don’t publish stories of drunk people getting their foot crushed. Is MRL’s President Walsh such an ignoramus that he doesn’t see the need for some swift action here? Or is that why he gets paid the big bucks – to not see it?
You really have to wonder about those in high-level corporate positions. How did they get there? All the mid-level managers I’ve ever met have been ‘yes-men’ to the core, never saying no to anything the boss said. Perhaps that level of corporate allegiance is rewarded, such as in Walsh’s case, but…well gosh, folks, look what it gets us.
Imagine if a protester got their foot run over? How long before we'd hear the end of it?
MRL, invest in your infrastructure or get ready for lawsuits. You've been lucky so far. Want to push it? Something tells me you do. You're a corporation, after all - you can get away with anything so long as Czar Washington foots the bill.