I am pleased to announce that Hoey & Farina Attorney William McMahon obtained a record Illinois verdict in the sum of $715,852.42 on behalf of Conductor / Engineer William Fletcher for shoulder injuries sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on the job.
On Thursday, August 9, 2007, a Chicago jury rendered a verdict in favor of Conductor Fletcher and against Chicago Rail Link (CRL) in Federal Court in Chicago. This is a record jury verdict in Illinois for a non-operated shoulder injury without nerve damage.
The railroad had so much confidence in its defense that it offered only $50,000.00 to settle Mr. Fletcher's Federal Employers' Liability Act claim before trial. On the day of trial it raised its offer to $100,000.00.
Mr. Fletcher worked as a conductor, utility man and locomotive engineer for Defendant, Chicago Rail Link, for four years.
Plaintiff testified that the CRL's motor vehicle provided to him had defective brakes, which failed when a semi-truck turned left in front of him on a public street adjacent to the Bedford Park railroad yard, where CRL performs contract-switching work for CSXT.
Ten days prior to the April 7, 2005 vehicle accident, Plaintiff was driving the same vehicle when the brakes failed. On that day, Plaintiff was able to safely stop the vehicle using the parking brake.
The jury was asked to determine whether CRL violated an Illinois railroad motor vehicle safety statute (92 IAC 1550), which required the railroad to provide safe vehicles to its employees. The jury found CRL in violation of the state railroad safety regulation, a determination that voided a 50% comparitive negligence determination assigned to Plaintiff.
The jury also found against CRL in its separate contribution claim against its repair facility, Automasters. CRL sued Automasters alleging faulty repair. At trial, the railroad argued that Plaintiff had tampered with the vehicle himself in order to obtain a "jackpot" jury verdict.
As a result of the collision with the semi-truck, Mr. Fletcher suffered a shoulder injury that his treating orthopedic physician diagnosed as a partial tear of the rotator cuff. Fletcher had only two visits to the orthopedic surgeon, and no physical therapy for his shoulder, as his health benefits were cut off by the railroad. His treating physician unequivocally testified that Mr. Fletcher's partial tear of his shoulder tendon was caused by the motor vehicle accident at work.
Mr. Fletcher is only 49 years old. The last day he worked on the railroad was the day of the accident, April 7, 2005. He asserted that he is occupationally disabled from railroad work because of lifting restrictions, but has found alternative employment outside the railroad industry.