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Woman sues ÖBB over lost legs

A Californian woman who lost both her legs in an accident at a train station in Innsbruck has won the next round in a bid to sue the Austrian state owned train company OBB for compensation in an American court.

A panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had voted 2-1 in September to dismiss Carol Sachs' lawsuit against the OBB on the grounds that US law bars suits against foreign governments (OBB is state owned).

She lost her legs when she fell through a gap on a railway platform in Innsbruck, was hit by a train and is now trying to sue the government-owned railroad for damages.

Sachs however refused to accept the decision and sought a rehearing, arguing that the railroad although government owned had engaged in commercial activity through its involvement in an agency that sells multi-railway tickets called Eurail passes in the United States.

Now the appeals court said a majority of its judges had voted for a rehearing before an 11-judge panel, to be held the week of March 18 in San Francisco.

Sachs, who had bought a Eurail pass, was injured in April 2007 at a station in Innsbruck. She said she slipped through a gap and fell to the tracks when the doors of the train she was trying to board closed and the train started moving. Both her legs had to be amputated above the knee.

Her suit accused OBB of operating the train negligently, failing to provide a safe place to board and failing to warn passengers. Those issues remain on hold while the courts address the railroad's claim of legal immunity.

Sachs is now 48 and works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said her lawyer, Geoffrey Becker.

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