WHAT HAPPENED: Our client was a ticket agent-clerk working with a major railroad in Mississippi. He suffered a back injury handling a heavy piece of baggage. The particular article weighed in excess of 75 pounds, the maximum weight of articles handled on regular stations such as the Mississippi station where our client worked. Fortunately, another employee wrote the weights of this and other packages on the waybill which proved to be important evidence. Our client continued to work for almost two years, struggling with significant back pain and requesting that his employer "accommodate" him in the workplace. His employer refused to do so and placed him on inactive status with medical restrictions.
KEY LEGAL STRATEGY: Our firm's first strategic move was to file the law suit in Washington, D.C., rather than in Mississippi. The railroad tried three times to convince the court to transfer the case to Mississippi where many factual witnesses were located. Our firm argued that the railroad in question had many supervisory personnel in Washington, DC, and nearby in Philadelphia and that many of the lifting and handling policies were set in these cities, not in Mississippi. The court wrote a well-reasoned opinion keeping the case in Washington. The next key strategy was to retain an ergonomics expert who used a highly sophisticated computer program to estimate the force on our client's spine while he engaged in the specific lifting of this particular size article. The computer program showed that the lifting maneuver would have a very high probability of creating injury to the spine. Based on the complete package put together by our firm, around the date of the final pre-trial conference with the court, the case was successfully settled.