Railroad Injury Verdicts and Settlements
Glenn Ames vs. Union Pacific Railroad Company
RR Worker Awarded Settlement
Switchman Awarded Settlement
Newspaper article – FELA Jury Award for man hurt at railyard called record
Legal claims and lawsuits can frequently be settled without a trial. Knowledgeable attorneys know how to evaluate lawsuits and present the proper arguments to the defense to maximize your settlement. However, many settlements are reached “at the courthouse steps.” That is, the defense is unwilling to pay an appropriate sum without forcing the plaintiff to wait longer and incur greater expenses in preparing for trial.
While we-obtain multi-million dollar case settlements, most cases are of smaller amounts. The YJB dedication applies to all cases. For instance, in a 2003 case in Juneau County, WI, YJB proved that the railroad was incorrect in its assertion that all equipment was working properly. Our investigators tracked down the employee who handled the car immediately after it was reported as defective, and he verified that in fact the wheel wobbled so much that it presented a very hazardous condition. The jury deliberated for two hours and awarded the worker $160,000, more than three times the railroad’s last offer.
In today’s legal environment, almost all settlements are reached with a confidentiality clause attached. Therefore, most cases cannot be publicly discussed or the amount of settlement stated. Only cases, which go to trial and have a verdict reached, can be used in our listing.
We are proud to have recovered millions of FELA awards in much needed compensation for injured railroaders in a wide variety of cases including:
- Frank Aloi vs. Union Pacific RR, during which a Denver, Colorado jury returned a verdict of $6 million in damages, at the time the highest FELA jury award in history.
- Hillyard v. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway, 01-2-34536-2SEA (2003), in which a BNSF Engineer, working as a conductor in Kettle Falls, WA, was operating a pin lifter mechanism that malfunctioned, causing him to slip and amputating his leg below the knee. BNSF settled the case after a four-week trial.
- Tennant v. Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern R.R. Co., $4.5 Million verdict in Hennepin County, then the largest in Minnesota History.
- Norfolk & Western Railway Company v. Ayers, in which the firm represented the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court of the United States in a landmark 2003 decision which protected injured railroad workers and completely thwarted an attempt by the railroad industry to undermine their employees’ rights under the FELA.
- Confidential settlements for several families injured during a spill of anhydrous ammonia during a CP rail derailment near Minot, North Dakota. The YJB team produced evidence sufficient to underscore CP’s negligence and fault in multiple respects; such as violations of multiple federal safety regulations, CP used old, worn out, undersized 100 pound rail despite knowing it was inadequate, substandard, and inappropriate for such use, CP failed to follow its own internal rules regarding the inspection, maintenance and repair of continuous welded rail, CP discontinued ultrasonic testing which would have detected the cracked joint bar and prevented the derailment, among others (see full article in Winter 2006 Yaeger report).
- A more than $2 million FELA award by a Utah jury to longtime Amtrak engineers Larry Queen and Jerry Cunliffe who suffered career-ending Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on Feb. 15, 1995 when their locomotive was sliced open by a 40-foot long steel beam protruding from a Union Pacific rail car.
- A 1988 case involving a car-train crash in northwestern Illinois, in which the firm obtained a then-record $1,250,000 structured settlement on behalf of a four year old boy, whose mother and unborn sibling were killed in a grade-crossing accident.
- A $1.1 million FELA jury award to an Iowa man who was injured when a group of employees from his company, I&M Rail Link, left a switch open and unlocked, causing his train to improperly enter a track, on a collision course with another train. Randall A. Buck was injured when he jumped from the engine at the last minute, before the trains collided.
- An $800,000 verdict in Detroit for a 48-year old Conrail Engineer who sustained a permanently disabling back injury when an engine handbrake malfunctioned.
- A 500,000 award by a Casper, Wyoming jury to Union Pacific conductor Thomas Murry who was injured when a bus that was transporting him went off Interstate 80 on Halloween in 2003, leaving him permanently disabled. He railroad initially offered Murry a $10,000 settlement.
- A confidential record settlement on behalf of a locomotive engineer involved in a collision between two trains, using the theory of negligent promotion, where the Defendant Railroad certified an engineer who clearly shouldn’t have been.
- A confidential record settlement in a single inhalation case, where our client had been trapped in a locomotive engine cab, which started on fire.
- A confidential record settlement in a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) case, where the engineer’s train struck a “runaway freight car,” leaving the engineer unable to return to work.
- A confidential settlement in a traumatic brain injury case, in which a 61 year old conductor was injured in a caboose derailment case.
- Two cases where the railroad fired the worker for turning in personal injury report forms, assisting the worker’s union officials in obtaining the employee’s reinstatement with full back pay.
Our depth and breadth of experience in the handling of FELA claims extends to our representation of injured people in matters arising from automobile accidents, general negligence, dangerous and defective products and aviation accidents.
The attorneys at Yaeger & Jungbauer Barristers, PLC are also recognized as being among the nation’s leading attorneys practicing under the whistleblower protections of the Federal Rail Safety Act (FRSA). Some of our recoveries under the FRSA include:
- Wooten v. BNSF Ry. Co. (D.Mont.), Following a two-week trial in Missoula, Montana, a federal jury unanimously found in favor of the plaintiff on both his claims for his personal injury under the FELA and for the railroad’s termination of his employment as a result of filing his personal injury report under the FRSA. The jury awarded over $1.4 million in lost wages, $500,000 in emotional pain and suffering, and $249,999 in punitive damages ($1 below the statutory maximum).
- Wallis v. BNSF Ry. Co. (W.D.Wash.), Jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff and awarded damages. Following YJB’s successful defense of the District Court’s order awarding fees and costs, the case (along with two other cases pending before the Department of Labor) for a confidential amount.
- Petersen v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. 13-090 (U.S. Dep’t of Labor ARB, Nov. 20, 2014): ARB affirmance of FRSA whistleblower award. The ALJ had determined that “the central reason for disciplining [the employee] for the parking lot incident was that he failed to prevent his feet from being run over, i.e., he sustained an injury that he reported, thereby causing an investigation to be conducted.” The case resulted in a determination that the railroad’s rules were “written in such a manner that anyone who is injured and reports it will have violated at least a part of one or more of them,” which has the illegal “chilling effect on the reporting of injuries.” It also marked the first time that the ALJ awarded punitive damages in nearly 20 years on the bench, noting that the railroad’s conduct had been so egregious and “so openly blatant” in ignoring the FRSA’s whistleblower protections of railroad employees. Following the ARB’s decision, the railroad filed a Petition for Review with the Eighth Circuit, after which the parties settled the matter for a confidential amount.
- Grimes v. BNSF Railway Co., 746 F.3d 184 (5th Circuit, 2014): Fifth Circuit vacated district court’s dismissal of FRSA case, finding that district court’s application of collateral-estoppel doctrine was erroneous because the investigatory hearing was conducted by the railroad and the Public Law Board’s review was limited to the closed record prepared by the railroad, the procedures of the PLB were not adequate to allow for the doctrine to apply in FRSA cases. Following the appeal, the District Court denied a renewed summary judgment motion, and the railroad settled the matter out of court.
Disclaimer: The cases above are cited for advertisement purposes. Every case presents its own unique factual and legal circumstances, and past results are not guarantees of the value of any future case.