$1.4 Million Jury Verdict for Injured Railroad Worker

Jerome Moroux of the law firm Broussard & David, LLC recently obtained a jury verdict of over $1.4 Million on behalf of a railroad worker who sustained significant injuries when an unsecured steel rail fell onto him.

Plaintiff was a truck driver on the railroad.  As the truck driver, plaintiff was responsible for securing each steel rail individually as it was loaded on to the truck from the rail yard; however, on the day of the accident, plaintiff and the foreman loaded several rails without tying them down, intending to secure them all at once. Discovery indicated that the foreman was lax about safety oversight and that his crews routinely did not secure rails in the manner the railroad required.

While plaintiff’s foreman was operating the crane, the boom struck an unsecured rail, causing the rail to fall from the truck. The rail grazed plaintiff’s back, causing plaintiff to fall and strike his head. Plaintiff suffered a fractured ankle, a deep bruise/hematoma in his lower back, and a concussion. Over the course of two years, plaintiff underwent surgical repair of his ankle, as well as extensive treatment for his seroma/wound care in his lower back.  Additionally, plaintiff underwent a two level ACDF and treatment for post-concussive syndrome and anxiety and depression.  Plaintiff’s treating physicians testified that he would be restricted to light duty and more likely than not would need a back surgery sometime in the future.  A vocational rehabilitation counselor testified that plaintiff would not be able to return to work on the railroad.

The railroad contested liability, arguing that the railroad’s policy unequivocally established that it was plaintiff’s sole responsibility to secure the individual rails on the truck and that it was plaintiff’s sole responsibility to exercise “empowerment” to stop the job from being performed unsafely.  The railroad further argued that neither the post-concussive syndrome nor the cervical surgery were related to the accident, and that the future back surgery was unnecessary.  With respect to plaintiff’s earnings, the railroad argued that plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages and that because of plaintiff’s extensive prior experience, he could return to work in a light duty capacity with little loss of future earnings.

Extensive pre-trial motions were fought regarding the collateral source rule of FELA, admissibility of evidence of other jobs available to the plaintiff at BNSF within his post-surgical restrictions, and conclusions of the railroad’s own investigations regarding plaintiff’s violation of the company policy.

After a six day trial in Lafayette Parish, the jury returned a verdict of $1,420,000.00, which was composed of $900,000.00 in general damages; $400,000.00 in lost earnings; and $120,000.00 in future medical expenses. The jury assessed 40% fault on plaintiff.  On top of the $1,420,000.00, the railroad paid all medical costs, which had a value of over $300,000.00.

The attorneys at Broussard & David have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle cases of this nature and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of the negligence of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).