On April 20, 1964, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Black wrote the majority opinion in the case of Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia ex rel. Virginia State Bar. In that decision, he declared, “The First and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of the members through their Brotherhood to maintain and carry out their plan for advising workers who are injured to obtain legal advice and for recommending specific lawyers.” See 377 U.S. 1 (1964). This decision gave each and every officer and union member the right to inform another member of his or her union about the FELA - Federal Employers’ Liability Act and to recommend railroad union members to qualified personal injury attorneys on the Designated Legal Counsel list.
Justice Black wrote, “Injured workers or their families often fell prey on the one hand to persuasive claims adjusters eager to gain a quick and cheap settlement for their railroad employers, or on the other hand, to lawyers either not competent to try these lawsuits against the able and experienced railroad counsel or too willing to settle a case for a quick dollar.” [377 U.S. 4] These words were written almost a half century ago, but could have easily been written only yesterday as they still apply today!
This important decision protects you from harassment, intimidation, or charges when you fulfill your moral obligation and the unions’ goal of advising and helping one another in time of need. The time when that advice or help is most needed arises at the moment someone is injured or killed while working on the railroad. It is essential that the injured worker has the benefit of immediate legal advice from Designated Legal Counsel to protect his or her legal rights and recovery under the law.
Typically, railroaders will use their local chairmen to address grievances, and the legislative representatives about safety issues. However, it is just as important that they are aware of the benefits of Designated Legal Counsel for legal advice and representation when they are injured. The need for Designated Legal Counsel all too often comes at a time when there is tragedy and the immediate need to make life-changing decisions. Justice Black recognized these circumstances when he affirmed each and every member’s and officer’s right to advise those in need about Designated Legal Counsel and to recommend Designated Legal Counsel.
As a union officer, it is your right, duty and privilege to be able to recommend your members to Designated Legal Counsel. I was a railroader for more than twenty years, and I suffered an on-duty injury. Now as an attorney at Hoey & Farina, Designated Legal Counsel, I understand and appreciate the need for sound legal advice and guidance from Designated Legal Counsel. It is your responsibility to inform Designated Legal Counsel about a fellow member who may be in need of legal assistance but does not know where to turn.
As Designated Legal Counsel, Hoey & Farina, will take the steps necessary to see that the injured member and his or her family are protected under the law. The attorneys and staff at Hoey & Farina are here for you and your fellow members when you need us – 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-425-1212.