Jury Rejects CSXT's Slick Version of Facts and Awards Injured Engineer $3.98 Million Verdict ** Ten Times The Railroad’s Offer
Designated Counsel James L. Farina of Hoey & Farina, P.C. is proud to report that his associate, George Brugess, obtained a $3,979,686 verdict in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, Indiana on behalf of Kevin Roberts, a former engineer, and against the CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSXT”). The jury trial under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) began on August 24, 2010 and concluded with the verdict on August 27, 2010.
On December 6, 2006, Mr. Roberts was called for a train to operate between Avon Yard, in Avon, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio. The crew’s time expired while en-route. The CSXT then sent a company van to the train to transport the crew back to Avon Yard. As the van approached Avon Yard at approximately 5:30 a.m. on December 7, 2006, a CSXT machinist in a CSXT heavy work truck lost control of his truck and crashed head-on into the van. According to Mr. Roberts’ testimony, as corroborated by Officer Nathan Challis of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department who investigated the accident, the weather was treacherous. It was snowing and the roads were covered with ice and blowing snow.
The CSXT heavy work truck driver admitted to Officer Challis at the scene that there were adverse driving conditions and he failed to engage the four-wheel drive on his truck. He also admitted that he lost control, crossed the center line and collided head-on with the van. Mr. Roberts was taken by ambulance to the emergency room because of his serious injuries. Both vehicles had substantial damage and were towed.
The driver of the CSXT heavy work truck was brought back to the yard and interrogated by CSXT management officials about the accident. The driver explained what happened and that one passenger in the van, Mr. Roberts, was seriously injured and taken to the hospital. After this discussion, CSXT management made the driver complete a second accident report for the CSXT. At trial the CSXT offered the driver’s second statement into evidence. The driver testified at trial that the weather was clear, the roads were dry and the accident was caused by an unexpected patch of black ice. Further, after the heavy truck skidded on the black ice, it sideswiped the van.
At trial, the jury was asked to decide whether the “white snow” version of the accident as reported by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department investigating officer and Kevin Roberts was correct or whether the “black ice” version of the accident from the CSXT was the truth of the matter. The CSXT argued at trial that it could not be held responsible for an accident caused by unforeseen “black ice.”
Mr. Roberts’ injuries and medical treatment included surgical repair to his knee and multiple cartilage injections, surgery on his elbow, fractures of his shoulder that went undiagnosed and eventually required surgery, and serious injury to his cervical spine requiring steroid injections and a referral for spinal surgery. The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board eventually determined that Kevin Roberts is permanently disabled due to the injuries from this accident.
After deliberating for two hours, the jury rejected the CSXT’s arguments and awarded Mr. Roberts $3,979,686 in damages. The last pre-trial settlement offer from the CSXT was $400,000.
Congratulations to Mr. Roberts and George Brugess. If you have any questions regarding this case, the Off-Track Vehicle Accident Benefits or any FELA matter, please contact Hoey & Farina at (888) 425-1212 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.