On July 13, 2009, a jury awarded Harry Balough, a Metra engineer, $500,000.00 for his claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”). But, the jury found Mr. Balough 40% at fault and reduced its award to $300,000. However, the jury also answered special interrogatories finding that Metra violated the Locomotive Inspection Act and that the violation was the cause of Mr. Balough’s injury.
George Brugess, one of Mr. Balough's attorneys at Hoey & Farina, immediately filed a post trial motion asking the Court to eliminate the finding of contributory negligence because a violation of the Locomotive Inspection Act did not provide for a reduction of damages for contributory negligence. Metra argued in its post trial motion that the locomotive was not “in use” and the jury instructions were, therefore, incorrect.
On October 14, 2009, Judge Hubbard of the Circuit Court of Cook County agreed with Mr. Brugess and entered judgment for the full amount of the jury verdict, $500,000.00, in favor of Mr. Balough.
Metra appealed Judge Hubbard’s decision to the Illinois First District Appellate Court on several grounds, including the argument that the train was not “in use.” On May 19, 2011, the Illinois First District Appellate Court rejected Metra’s appeal and affirmed Judge Hubbard’s ruling in favor of Mr. Balough.
The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin has reported on this important FELA legal decision in Balough v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, d/b/a Metrta. Hoey & Farina shares their published summary review and the Justice Pucinski's decision.