FELA Designated Legal Counsel James L. Farina of Hoey & Farina, P.C. is proud to report that his associates, George Brugess and William McMahon, obtained a $500,000.00 gross verdict in Chicago, Illinois, on behalf of Harry Balough, a 60 year old Metra locomotive engineer. As a result of a defective trap door latch on the locomotive, Mr. Balough was struck in the head by the trap door when the latch released. He suffered traumatic migraines and was disabled from working as an engineer.
The injury to Mr. Balough occurred on July 6, 2005. However, Mr. Balough was one of numerous Metra Electric engineers to be hit in the head while climbing into a Metra Electric locomotive due to the trap door latch giving way. Mr. Brugess, with the assistance of Mr. McMahon, effectively argued that Metra violated the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations that require locomotive trap doors to latch securely in the up and down positions.
At trial Metra claimed the accident was the fault of Mr. Balough for not ensuring that the trap door was latched in the upright position.
On July 13, 2009, after a two week trial, the jury awarded Mr. Balough $500,000.00 for his claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”). But, the jury also 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.
Mr. Brugess 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 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 verdict, $500,000.00, in favor of Mr. Balough.
Congratulations to Mr. Balough, George Brugess, William McMahon and the team at Hoey & Farina, P.C. 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 email firstname.lastname@example.org.