UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes suffered severe injuries in a near-fatal train accident in 2017. Now he’s going after the company he alleges caused the crash.
Hughes, via his attorneys, allege Norfolk Southern Railway and several of its employees were negligent in failing to warn motorists of dangerous conditions at the railroad crossing where his Chevrolet Z71 truck collided with a northbound train. His estranged wife, Audra, is named as a co-plaintiff.
Per the complaint, filed June in Montgomery County (Ill.) Circuit Court, Hughes’ attorneys claim Norfolk Southern Railway didn’t have adequate warning signs at the crossing and knew it “posed a grave danger to the public” given its placement and visibility.
Hughes’ attorneys also claim the ex-UFC welterweight champ was lawfully driving when his vehicle when he was struck and “thrown dozens of feet,” resulting in “severe, progressive and permanent brain and bodily injuries,” according to the complaint.
Matt and Audra Hughes each seek in excess of $50,000, attorneys costs, and other relief allowed by the court. Multiple calls to Matt Hughes’ attorneys of record, Steven Grovea and Patrick Hagery, were not immediately returned.
Norfolk Southern Railway denies the Hughes’ allegations. The company argues sufficient warnings were in place and claim the UFC Hall of Famer’s actions led to the accident.
Norfolk’s defense attorney Charles Swartwout claims Hughes failed to stop his truck at a safe distance and didn’t heed a warning from the “plainly visible” train. Swartwout claims Hughes failed to yield the right of way and “knowingly drove his vehicle onto a railroad grade crossing.” The attorney also claims Hughes was talking on a cellphone at the time of the crash.
Hughes’ son, Joey Hughes, indicated his father may have been using a cellphone at the time of the accident. In an interview for the UFC documentary “A Country Boy Can Survive,” he said of Hughes, “I don’t know if he was on his phone, or what happened, but he never stopped.”
Norfolk has requested a jury trial and filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit. The Virginia-based transportation company has been at the center of several safety-related lawsuits over the past two decades. In 2014, it reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the parents of two boys who were killed by a train as they walked on a railroad frame, according to The Roanoke Times.
Hughes’ attorneys say the fighter has lost earnings and earnings capacity and will require ongoing medical care and a caretaker for his extensive injuries, which include a traumatic brain injury, recurrent fevers, depression, anxiety, seizures and memory loss.
”The injuries he suffered have caused his personality to change and his marriage and relationships with friends and family have been strained,” the complaint states.
The complaint also notes damages suffered by Audra Hughes for medical expenses and treatment “for which she will now and in the future be obligated” and “the society, companionship and relationship with her husband of which she has been deprived.”
The lawsuit was filed four months after Matt Hughes filed for divorce from Audra Hughes, who this past December obtained a restraining order against her estranged husband, alleging domestic violence; Matt Hughes filed an order for mediation earlier this month.
The restraining order was one of two filed against Matt Hughes by his close family members. He recently agreed with a settlement with his twin brother Mark Hughes, who accused him of roughing up his son in a dispute over a tractor.
Following the allegations of domestic violence, Matt Hughes released a statement attributing his family troubles to the physical difficulties he’s encountered while recovering from his accident. Via his attorney, Mark Hughes agreed with his brother’s statement and hoped they could reconcile in the future.