Hoey & Farina ‘Lights Up' The Belt - Verdict for Railroad Switchman in Locomotive Inspection Act Case

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Hoey & Farina is pleased to annouce that its FELA lawyers has obtained a $799,493.00 verdict in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, on behalf of Donald Evans, a former Switchman, and against the Belt Railway Company of Chicago (“BRC”). The trial in this matter under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) began on September 15, 2011, and concluded with the jury’s verdict on September 29, 2011.

On April 7, 2006, Mr. Evans was working for the BRC as a Remote Control Operator and was responsible for moving rail cars in the BRC’s Clearing Yard in Bedford Park, Illinois. At approximately 4:00 a.m., while moving rail cars, Mr. Evans had to climb down from a locomotive engine. As Mr. Evans descended the engine’s switch step and placed his right foot onto the ground, he stepped on a discarded water bottle which caused his right leg to twist. Mr. Evans could not see the bottle in the walkway because the light bulb on the engine’s switch step was out. Mr. Evans suffered injuries to his right knee and needed three surgeries. As a result of his injuries, Mr. Evans was unable to return to work at the railroad.

The BRC’s attorneys, Daley Mohan Groble, P.C., denied liability and argued that Mr. Evans’ knee injuries were not caused by his incident at Clearing Yard. In particular, the BRC’s attorneys relied upon a personal injury report completed by Mr. Evans while he was in the emergency room immediately after his incident. In the personal injury report, Mr. Evans did not note that the switch step’s light bulb was out.

At trial, the BRC’s attorneys used the personal injury report as evidence against Mr. Evans. The BRC argued that the defective light bulb did not really cause his injuries because, if it had, Mr. Evans would have indicated so in his report. The BRC also argued that Mr. Evans’ injuries were preexisting, and not a result of his incident.

Hoey & Farina pointed out to the jury that BRC supervisors pounced on Mr. Evans while he was at the hospital, obviously medicated and in pain, and requested he complete a personal injury report. Hoey & Farina insisted that the BRC did this to collect evidence against Mr. Evans while he was unable to defend himself.

BRC attorneys argued that the railroad’s efforts were not to collect evidence against Mr. Evans. According to the BRC, its actions were a necessary safety measure to repair any equipment defects and to prevent another accident.

Hoey & Farina demonstrated that the evidence contradicted the BRC’s argument. First, the defective light bulb was not repaired by the BRC until TEN DAYS after Mr. Evans’ incident. Second, the BRC used the personal injury report as a super-enlarged exhibit at trial – clearly, an attempt to sway the jury against Mr. Evans and not to ensure safety.

The jury recognized Hoey & Farina's arguments were correct and that the defective light bulb contributed to Mr. Evans’ injury. Accordingly, the jury found the BRC violated the Locomotive Inspection Act and Federal Regulations for failing to illuminate properly the switch step on the locomotive engine.

Regarding Mr. Evans’ damages, Hoey & Farina presented a vocational expert who testified as to Mr. Evans’ inability to find employment. Specifically, the vocational expert testified that Mr. Evans was unable to return to work at the railroad, and would have difficulty finding other available employment within his skill set. Hoey & Farina also called an economic expert to testify as to the wages Mr. Evans lost in connection with his injury. The jury used the exact same figure testified to by the economic expert in awarding Mr. Evans $559,493.00 in lost earnings.

Various treating doctors and a medical expert also testified on behalf of Mr. Evans. The medical consensus was that Mr. Evans had a preexisting condition, but the April 2006 fall at work caused his disability from railroad work. The jury awarded Mr. Evans $120,000.00 for past and future pain and suffering, and $120,000.00 for past and future disability.

The verdict awarded Mr. Evans totaled $799,493.00. Congratulations to Mr. Evans.

If you have any questions regarding this case, the Locomotive Inspection Act, or any FELA matter, please contact our office at 1-888-425-1212 or info@hoeyfarina.com. Use the following links to read other Straight Track articles regarding the Locomotive Inspection Act:

If you or a loved one have suffered a work injury or wrongful death on the railroad, call an experienced FELA lawyer / railroad injury attorney at Hoey & Farina, P.C. at 1-888-425-1212, or complete this form, for your FREE CONSULTATION. Hoey & Farina represents clients throughout the United States.

HOEY & FARINA, P.C.

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Chicago, Illinois 60605
Main: (312) 939-1212
Toll Free: (888) 425-1212
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Email: info@hoeyfarina.com
 
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