A railroad conductor suffered an injury due to an insecure handhold/ladder on a train car causing a serious back injury. After undergoing epidural steroid injections in his back, he underwent back surgery with hardware and instrumentation placed in his back. Our client was unable to return to his job as a railroad conductor, and suffered substantial lost earnings and lost earning capacity because of the physical restrictions after the back surgery.
Key Law Firm strategy:
The railroad denied any liability whatsoever causing the worker's injury when he was mounting the train car. However, our client contended that the ladder/ handhold on the train car was insecure and not fastened properly. We contended that the condition violated the safety appliance act-both the statutory provisions, as well as various regulatory provisions enacted under the safety appliance act provisions. Our contention was that this was a regulatory violation that meant we did not have to produce evidence that the railroad knew of the condition in advance, even if the train car on the train was not owned by the railroad employer of our client.
Accordingly, we obtained a top railroad safety expert, who had been a previous Federal Railroad administration inspector himself, to provide expert opinions. This expert pointed out the specific safety appliance act regulations that were violated because of the improperly secured ladder/handhold. Our law firm filed what is called a motion for summary judgment in which we asked the court to rule, well in advance of the jury trial, that the cause of the injury was a violation of the safety appliance act regulation. The railroad also filed a brief denying that the safety appliance act applied at all, and denying that it violated any regulation. Before the court ruled on our motion, the parties arrived at a settlement but the railroad required that the client's name and amount of the settlement be retained as confidential, which has been increasingly occurring in many large cases that our injury law firm handles. Our firm worked on this case about two years prior to settlement.
The amount of the settlement will allow our client to attend college or vocational training, and then enter the workplace in a different position which will not require nearly the level of physical duties that he previously was able to handle as a conductor with this railroad.
The Results: $825,000.00 Settlement
Date: Spring 2009
Richard N. Shapiro, attorney
T.C. Emory, investigator
Margaret Cudden, legal assistant,
Roslyn Hughes, paralegal