A recent successful jury outcome in a FELA case in Illinois shows the power of the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA). The case was on behalf of a locomotive engineer who worked on a Metra train that had a defective trap door latch. The latch released and hit the railroad worker in the head causing him to have traumatic headaches and ultimately disqualifying him from future railroad work. Numerous events of trap door latches on locomotives giving way had been reported to the carrier.
The federal railroad regulations require that locomotive trap doors are able to be securely latched. The jury found a violation of that law but also felt that the railroad worker himself had 40 percent fault in not checking that the trap door was latched properly. Under the Locomotive Inspection Act, any contributory negligence of the plaintiff is wiped out and doesn’t matter. This allowed the worker to obtain full compensation for his injury rather than have 40 percent of his damages taken away for his own comparative fault. The power of this law protecting engineers and train crews when they get hurt because of defective locomotive engine parts often makes the difference in a successful FELA case outcome.
An experienced railroad trial lawyer knows how to find the defects and prove the case comes under the LIA. I congratulate the excellent trial lawyers at Hoey & Farina who got this good result.