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Shapiro & Appleton

CSX Engineer Crushed and Killed Between Locomotive and Rail Car

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The United Transportation Union is reporting that its membership suffered its ninth fatal on-the-job accident during 2011. According to the UTU, a 6-year veteran CSX engineer was crushed and killed between a locomotive and a rail car in Botkins, Ohio (OH), on September 8. The locomotive had been pushing a stalled train, and the accident occurred while the engineer was uncoupling it from the rear car of the train.

Getting trapped and injured or killed between rail cars is a constant danger for engineers, trainmen, switchmen and conductors in rail yards and on tracks. To cite two examples of this, my fellow Virginia (VA)-based FELA attorney Randy Appleton reported in January 2011 that an Iowa Interstate Railroad switchman almost lost his life when a train pinned him against the wall of a building in a Council Bluffs, Iowa (IA) yard. More recently, in July 2011, a Belt Railway yard worker in Chicago died when two rail cars collided while he was working in between them.

CSX has expressed it condolences for the family of the engineer killed in the Ohio accident. The rail company has also pledged a full investigation into what caused the tragedy. CSX officials, however, did not promise to immediately assist its former employee's wife and children. Nor did the railroad acknowledge that federal law requires investigations into the reasons for, and ways to prevent, on-the-job deaths.

So CSX cannot be lauded for its compassion. Shockingly, neither can the sheriff's department of Auglaize County, OH. Speaking with reporters at the accident scene, the sheriff told Dayton ABC affiliate WHIO TV, "Nothing at the scene indicated anything more than a work-related accident." To hear the sheriff tell it, the crush death of the engineer was no more remarkable than an office worker's paper cut.

Having represented many rail employees who suffered serious, life-altering injuries while doing their railroad jobs, I know firsthand that few, if any, accidents in rail yards and on tracks can be reasonably described as little more than a work-related mishap. I also know that family members forced to deal with the sudden, unexpected and almost definitely preventable death of a major breadwinner need immediate help more than mere expressions of sympathy from a railroad corporation.

I hope CSX will step up and compensate the engineer's family for their almost unimaginable loss. However, I know from more than 15 years spent fighting railroads that the company will not take responsibility. CSX treats the workers and their families poorly in litigation, so these folks should get an experienced FELA attorney to protect their best interests.

EJL
 
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