ON TRACK WITH RAILWAY CLAIM SERVICES, Inc.
Volume 12 Issue 1 January, 2005
RAILWAY CLAIM SERVICES, INC. Our 18th Year of Service
EARLY RAILROAD ECONOMICS 101
THIRD ANNUAL REPORT IDENTIFIES ‘JUDICIAL HELLHOLES’
YEAR 2005 RAILROAD RETIREMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TAXES
RAILROAD RETIREMENT FUNDS AND TEAMSTERS UNION
THIS AND THAT ACROSS THE COUNTRY
POINTS OF LEGAL INTEREST
Railway Claim Services, Inc. (RCSI) can perform background checks for potential job applicants. RCSI can also check injury histories for employees. For further information contact Elizabeth Vineyard of RCSI at 731-967-1796, or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EARLY RAILROAD ECONOMICS 101
Competition was brutal for operating railroads during the late 1800's. Railroads during the period had to account for every penny spent if they were to survive. The accountants were relentless in chasing down every cost and calculating it into their annual reports. As a result, we have a pretty good idea of what it cost to own and operate locomotives almost from the beginning of the industry.
For sixty years, from 1843 until the first years of the twentieth century, the price of an American-class locomotive stayed right around $10,000, even though the size, complexity, and technological development of the engine increased substantially. Wood was the preferred fuel and a whole industry developed to supply it to the railroads at anything from one dollar to eight dollars per cord, each cord propelling a standard train about 40 miles.
The engineers of these locomotives received about two and a half dollars a day, their firemen usually half that, and the daring brakemen who jumped from one car roof to the next, who died and were seriously injured by the thousands every year, got one dollar a day. The conductor got two dollars a day. In total, contemporary accountants found that it cost about twenty-five cents per mile to operate a conventional locomotive in conventional service during the 1870s.
THIRD ANNUAL REPORT IDENTIFIES ‘JUDICIAL HELLHOLES’
The third annual "Judicial Hellholes" report shows a disturbing scenario for one Illinois county.
"Judicial Hellholes are courtrooms throughout the United States where the law is not applied evenhandedly to all litigants," said ATRA General Counsel Victor Schwartz. "Litigation tourists, guided by their personal injury lawyer agents file lawsuits in Judicial Hellholes because they know they will receive a large reward, a favorable precedent, or both. Defendants declare good reason to fear when sued in Judicial Hellholes."
According to the report, as a result of what happens in the Hellhole courts, every consumer reportedly pays through a higher "tort tax" and compromised access to affordable healthcare.
According to the report, the abusive and unfair practices endemic to Madison County have infected neighboring St. Clair County, where the number of class action lawsuits filed in the past two years has increased by an astounding 1100%. This is the first year that St. Clair County has been named a Judicial Hellhole. It is now #2 on the report's list. Other report highlights include:
* Illinois' Madison and St. Clair Counties, where a lawsuit-driven healthcare crisis will have forced 161 physicians to leave the region by the end of the year.
* Hellhole #3 Hampton County, South Carolina, where 67% of cases filed in 2002 were filed by residents from other counties and other states.
* Hellhole #4 West Virginia, where the state's Supreme Court ruled that a safety director fired for on-the-job cocaine use could not be terminated, even though the employee lied about his cocaine use and "dishonesty" was grounds for dismissal within the employee's contract.
* Hellhole #5 Jefferson County, Texas, where a judge upheld a $1 billion award in a healthcare lawsuit -- a blatant deviation from established Texas law; the judge also refused to admit critical evidence that the defendant might not have been responsible for the plaintiff's harm.
The report also chronicles abuses in other jurisdictions, including: #6 Orleans Parish, Louisiana; #7 South Florida; #8 Philadelphia; and #9 Los Angeles. "Dishonorable mentions" include Oklahoma, the Utah Supreme Court, the District of Columbia and New Mexico's Appellate Courts.
For a copy of Judicial Hellholes 2004, visit http://www.atra.org.
The above is excerpted from the December 15, 2004 edition of The Insurance Journal. Find the entire article at: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2004/12/15/48658.htm
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day. Abraham Lincoln
YEAR 2005 RAILROAD RETIREMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE TAXES
The amounts of compensation subject to railroad retirement tier I and tier II payroll taxes will increase in 2005. However, the tier I tax rate on employees and employers remains unchanged. Under the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001, tier II tax rates are now determined annually by an average account benefits ratio. Based on this ratio, the tier II tax rate on both employees and employers will decrease in 2005. Railroad unemployment insurance tax rates paid by employers will continue to include a 1.5 percent surcharge in 2005.
Tier I and Medicare Tax.--The railroad retirement tier I payroll tax rate on covered rail employees and employers for the year 2005 remains at 7.65 percent. The railroad retirement tier I tax rate is the same as the social security tax, and for withholding and reporting purposes is divided into 6.20 percent for retirement and 1.45 percent for Medicare hospital insurance. The maximum amount of an employee's earnings subject to the 6.20 percent rate will increase to $90,000 in 2005 from $87,900 in 2004, but there is no maximum on earnings subject to the 1.45 percent Medicare rate. The increase in the amount of earnings subject to railroad retirement and social security taxes is based on indexing to increases in average national wages.
Tier II Tax.--The railroad retirement tier II tax rate on employees will decrease by 0.5 percent, from 4.9 percent to 4.4 percent in 2005, and the rate on employers will also decrease by 0.5 percent, from 13.1 percent to 12.6 percent. The maximum amount of earnings subject to railroad retirement tier II taxes, however, will increase to $66,900 in 2005 from $65,100 in 2004. Tier II tax rates under the 2001 Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act are based on an average account benefits ratio reflecting railroad retirement fund levels. Depending on this ratio, the tier II tax rate for employers can range between 8.2 percent and 22.1 percent, while the tier II rate for employees can be between 0 percent and 4.9 percent.
Unemployment Insurance Tax.--Employers, but not employees, also pay railroad unemployment insurance taxes, which are experience-rated by employer. The basic tax rates range from a minimum of 0.65 percent to a maximum of 12 percent on monthly earnings up to $1,150 in 2005, up from $1,130 in 2004. However, the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act also provides for a surcharge in the event the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Account balance falls below an indexed threshold amount, and such a surcharge of 1.5 percent applied in 2004. Since the accrual balance of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Account was $98.6 million on June 30, 2004, which was less than the indexed threshold of $112.9 million, a surcharge of 1.5 percent will again be added to the basic tax rates in 2005, but will not increase the maximum 12 percent rate.
The unemployment insurance tax rates on railroad employers in 2005 therefore will range from 2.15 percent (the minimum basic rate of 0.65 percent plus the 1.5 percent surcharge) to a maximum of 12 percent on monthly compensation up to $1,150.
The 1.5 percent surcharge will not apply to new employers in 2005, and new employers will initially pay a tax rate of 3.43 percent, which represents the average rate paid by all employers in the period 2001-2003.
For 77 percent of covered employers, the unemployment insurance rate assessed will be 2.15 percent in 2005.
Last week I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement. ~Mark Twain
The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and have the two as close together as possible. ~George Burns
Santa Claus has the right idea, visit people only once a year. ~Victor Borge
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. ~Mark Twain
What would men be without women? Scarce, sir ... mighty scarce. ~Mark Twain
By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. ~Socrates
I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. ~Groucho Marx
My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.
The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness and kindness, can be trained to do most things. ~Jilly Cooper
I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back. ~Zsa Zsa Gabor
Money can't buy you happiness, but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery. ~Spike Milligan
What's the use of happiness? It can't buy you money. ~Henny Youngman
I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position. ~Mark Twain
A woman drove me to drink ... and I hadn't even the courtesy to thank her. ~W.C. Fields
I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it. ~W.C. Fields
It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth. ~George Burns
RAILROAD RETIREMENT FUNDS AND TEAMSTERS UNION
There has been concern over a possible merger between a rail labor union and the Teamsters, prompting questions about how this might affect the railroad retirement system. Following is an email from RRB Counsel, Rob Perbohner to Railway Claim Services, Inc.’s Randal Little. It is included herein in its entirety.
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 2:32 PM
To: Randal Little
Subject: RE: [BNI_Alumni] Railroad Retirement Funds
A copy of the following letter was sent by the Board's General Counsel to other concerned individuals. I hope that this will help put this matter in perspective.
"This is in response to your recent inquiry wherein you expressed concern about the content of news stories suggesting that a possible
merger between a rail labor union and the Teamsters might endanger the railroad retirement system. The news stories have suggested that the merger, if it were to occur, might make railroad retirement trust funds available to fund benefits under the Teamsters' pension program. It would not be appropriate for the Railroad Retirement Board to become involved in internal railroad labor matters, however, it should be understood that the railroad retirement system is a creature of Federal law and any change in the system or in the use of trust funds that pay for benefits under the railroad retirement system would require an amendment to the Railroad Retirement Act.
Benefits payable under the Railroad Retirement Act are Federal entitlements and benefits may be paid only to persons enumerated in the statute (railroad industry employees and their families). Moreover, funds in the railroad retirement trust funds may only be used to pay benefits specified in the Act and to meet administrative expenses of the Railroad Retirement Board and National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust.
A merger between any rail labor union and the Teamsters would not make railroad retirement funds available for payment of benefits under the Teamsters' pension plan. Historically, changes to the Railroad Retirement Act have been based on joint recommendations of rail labor and rail carriers. Rail labor and rail management have worked hard over the years to ensure that the railroad retirement system is financially sound. Moreover, Congress has required that changes in the Railroad Retirement Act be adequately funded. Given the history of the railroad retirement system and the close oversight of any amendments to the Railroad Retirement Act, any change in the system that would jeopardize the current and future payment of benefits under the Act must be seen as extremely unlikely.
I hope that the above information is of assistance to you in understanding the railroad retirement system and the benefits providedby the Railroad Retirement Act."
THIS AND THAT ACROSS THE COUNTRY
New York – According to a published reports in December 2004 Railroad freight volumes hit record levels in 2004 thanks to the U.S. economic expansion and surging global trade, and Wall Street expects the trend to continue in 2005, giving railroad stocks additional steam.
Analysts said that railroads gained pricing power in 2004 for the first time in about two decades as manufacturers rebounded and companies replenished inventories, creating demand for transport services. The Dow Jones railroad index is up about 20 percent, more than doubling the performance of the S&P 500 during the same period of time.
Although growth may moderate from 2004's strong levels, analysts see further volume gains -- even with the mixed economic snapshot from recent data such as factory orders and durable goods and the continued reluctance of corporations to significantly boost spending in 2005.
An increase in intermodal business has driven growth and is expected to continue to do so into 2005 despite the tough year-earlier comparisons.
The economy and high fuel prices remain wildcards and their impact on manufacturers and consumers. But executives and analysts are still optimistic.
Most analysts also expect capacity to remain tight in the trucking sector because of the difficulty in easing the driver shortage. This has fueled growth expectations for the rail industry which is poised to take volume from the trucks.
Across the US – An 18-month-old U.S. Supreme Court decision is helping insurers defend against lawsuits and appears to be contributing to a decline in the size of punitive damage awards.
Since the US Supreme Court's April 2003 decision in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. vs. Campbell, the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages has dropped nationwide to 1.6 to 1, said James L. Crandal, an insurance defense attorney at Crandall, Wade & Lowe in Irvine, California. In contrast, the ratio in 2002 stood at 4.4 to 1, he said.
Other factors also could be at play, though, such as less juror sympathy for plaintiffs with minor complaints at a time when the nation faces difficult challenges such as the war in Iraq, said Mr. Crandall. He made his remarks during a presentation at the recent Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society annual meeting, held in October 2004.
The Campbell case stems from a lawsuit filed against a driver involved in a fatal accident in Utah. The driver was insured under a personal lines policy issued by State Farm.
The case gained widespread attention when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that Utah's Supreme Court was wrong to reinstate a $145 million punitive damage award when the underlying compensatory damages awarded totaled $1 million. (For additional information on this case see Railway Claim Services, Inc. Newsletter, Volume 11, Number 4, October 2004, which is posted on RCSI’s Website,www.railway-claim-services.com)
Nashville, TN – On November 23, 2004 a Davidson County jury awarded a $105.5 million judgment against DaimlerChrysler for a seat design that was faulted in the death of 8-month-old Joshua Flax. According to Court documents the jury awarded $5 million for wrongful death, $2.5 million for emotional distress suffered by the child's mother, who witnessed the death of her infant son, and $98 million in punitive damages against DaimlerChrysler.
The June 30, 2001 accident happened in west Nashville as Sparkman pulled his 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan out of a driveway on Old Charlotte Pike that morning. Louis A. Stockell Jr., driving a 1969 Ford F-100 pickup, struck the minivan from behind. The Complaint alleged that the seats collapsed on impact, causing a front-seat passenger in the van to jerk back and strike the infant's head. According to testimony at trial this impact caused a massive head injury and brain damage for the boy.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the infant's parents, Rachel Sparkman and Jeremy Flax, and grandparents, Jim and Sandra Sparkman. They accused DaimlerChrysler of knowing that the seats in its vans were prone to collapse during rear-impact accidents.
The day after the verdict Atlanta attorney James E. Butler Jr. said ''Daimler has known for over 20 years that these seats are deadly dangerous and never warned anybody. Instead, they continue to claim there's nothing wrong and to try to mislead the press, public and juries. This jury saw through that, and has warned Daimler to stop that misconduct.''
DaimlerChrysler spokesman Jason Vinessaid, ''We reject that as ridiculous.'' Vines said that a reckless driver traveling at twice the speed limit caused Joshua's death and that the company's seats are designed with safety in mind. ''We share the jury's empathy for the plaintiff,'' he said. ''This ruling ignores the fact that DaimlerChrysler didn't cause this accident.'' The company plans to appeal the verdict, Vines said.
US – At the end of October the membership of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) ratified their proposed merger with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. According to a spokesman the BMWE would become a division of the Teamsters Rail Conference, which was established in January when the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers merged with the Teamsters. The spokesman added that the conference now will represent approximately 70,000 rail workers, more than 42 percent of all unionized railroad employees.
UPCOMING MEETINGS (Check our Website –www.railway-claim-services.com for updates, links, details and other industry claims related meeting information.)
Southeastern Claims Association Annual Conference, June 21-24, 2005, Wilmington, North Carolina,http://southeastern.us/index.htm
American Short Line & Regional Association 12th Annual Railroad Liability Seminar, July 19-21, 2005, Contact Dederia Demouey for details at Mississippi Export Railroad 228-474-0709
General Claims Conference 28th Annual Meeting, September 13-15, 2005, Park City, Utah,www.aargcc.com
Midwest Claims Conference, April, 2005, Chicago, Illinois. (Specific date and location pending), for information contact Roy Gelder, 708-496-4041.
POINTS OF LEGAL INTEREST
Florida Defense Verdict after CSX Trackman alleged a low back injury from lifting. While working in defendant's Baldwin Yard in Jacksonville, the 48 year old plaintiff was directed by his foreman to assist in manually lifting three pieces of rail from the ground into the bucket of a back-hoe. The longest of the three pieces was some twelve feet long and weighed more than three hundred pounds. While placing that piece of rail in the backhoe bucket, plaintiff allegedly suffered a low back injury, and later underwent bilateral posterior lumbar fusion at L5-S1 with internal fixation. The plaintiff alleged CSX failed to furnish him with a reasonably safe place to work. The defense denied liability and claimed that plaintiff was negligent in the way he performed his job. The defense also claimed that plaintiffs alleged injuries were the result of a sprain and pre-existing arthritis rather than an on-the-job injury. The jury returned a defense verdict. Randall Keith Whitty v. CSX Transportation, Inc., Duval County (FL) Circuit Court, Case No. 02-04245-CA. Ronald R. Oberdier, Humphries and Oberdier, P.A., Jacksonville, FL for defendant.
Pennsylvania Jury finds in favor of CSX after Conductor Tears Biceps Muscle Attempting to Throw Switch. The 43 year-old conductor, was working near Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, when one train needed to pass another. Normally, the track is switched electronically. On this occasion, however, there was a connection problem and plaintiff had to change the switch manually. About fifteen minutes later, after the train had passed, the connection failed to work again. This time the lever would not move. Plaintiff sustained a torn biceps muscle in his attempt to throw the switch. Surgical reattachment was required. Plaintiff claimed that the railroad failed to maintain the lever mechanism. The defense denied negligence and claimed that it was a normal part of railroad operations for a switch to fail to operate properly on occasion so that manual operation was required. The railroad also claimed that there were no circumstances which would have put it on notice of a defective condition. Finally, the railroad asserted that plaintiff had pre-existing disabling conditions in the right wrist and cervical spine which would have impaired his employment as a conductor. John Iwanonkiw v. CSX Transportation, Inc., Allegheny County (PA) Common Pleas Court, Case No. GD03-10165. John E. Wall and Lisa Tumolo of Dickie, McCamey and Chilcote, Pittsburgh, PA for defendant.
Texas State Appeals Court Reverses $8.7 Million Verdict in Crossing Accident case. — In April 1994, the Front Street grade crossing in Thomdale, Texas was marked with passive warning devices. Some witnesses alleged visibility obstructions from trees and vegetation obscured, and a pile of crushed limestone to be used for construction work. Plaintiff's decedent was killed when his pickup truck was struck by a Southern Pacific train. Plaintiff sued the owner of the tracks, Missouri Pacific, claiming that it was negligent in failing to provide automatic signals, a flagman and/or a stop sign; failing to eliminate sight restrictions caused by the vegetation and/or the limestone. The case was tried to a jury which apportioned fault 15% to decedent and 85% to the railroad. The jury awarded plaintiff $8,733,458 in damages, including prejudgment interest. The SP appealed based upon the preemption of federal regulations concerning warning devices at public grade crossings. The appeal was based upon preemption was established as a matter of law since it showed that federal funds were expended to install warning devices at the crossing under a 1977 program to improve crossings statewide. The appeals court agreed that the testimony of the state transportation department railroad liaison and the testimony of the railroad's manager of public projects showed that cross bucks were paid for with federal funds. The court concluded that the adequacy of warning claim was preempted under both Easterwood and Shanklin. The judgment was reversed and a take-nothing judgment was entered. Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. v. Limmer, Court of Appeals of Texas—Houston (14th District) No. 14-02-00688-CV. Carl Crow, Kevin Dubose, David M. Gunn, Russell S. Post, and Deborah G. Hankinson for plaintiffs. Kathleen H. Alsima, Michael A. Hatchell and Harding J. Rome for MoPac.
Utah Supreme Court Affirms Directed Verdict in quadriplegic injury case in Favor of Salt Lake City Southern Railroad Company. A section of tracks that included a railroad crossing near 200 West Street in Salt Lake City was sold by Union Pacific to the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) prior to February 19, 1998. On that date the plaintiff was riding his bicycle across the crossing when he crashed and sustained serious injuries. Plaintiff claimed that a "protuberance" in the road caused him to steer his bike into a gap between field panels (rubber mats) which raise the level of the roadway almost to the level of the rails. According to plaintiff although the field panels were laid next to each other, over time a gap running parallel to plaintiffs direction of travel grew between two of the panels so that his wheel entered the gap and jammed against one of the rails. Plaintiff sued Union Pacific, which had installed the field panels, Omni Products, Inc. (whose predecessor manufactured the field panels) and UTA. He also sued the city and Salt Lake City Southern Railroad Company (Southern). Southern used the tracks pursuant to an agreement with UTA which allowed it to run trains on tracks designated as "freight trackage." Plaintiff settled with all parties except Southern and the city. The case proceeded to trial against Southern after the trial court granted summary judgment to the city. The trial court granted a directed verdict in favor of Southern, finding that plaintiff was required to establish either actual or constructive notice of the claim.
The Utah Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. Although the court rejected Southern's contention that it was not a railway company for purposes of the statute [Utah Code §10-7-026(2)] imposing a duty keep crossings "in repair and safe in all respects," it nevertheless found that there was no evidence that Southern had notice of the condition. Moreover, the court rejected plaintiff’s assertion that this case fell within the "no-notice" category of cases. Goebel v. Salt Lake City Southern Railroad Company, Supreme Court of Utah, Case No. 20020825. Peter C. Collins, Salt Lake, UT for plaintiff. E. Scott Savage, Casey K. McGarvey and Martha S. Stonebrook, Salt Lake, UT for defendant.
Louisiana Appeals Court Reverses $1.843 Million Net Verdict. The plaintiff started off his day on May 22, 1998 by sharing two six-packs of beer with three friends, as well as smoking marijuana cigarettes laced with cocaine. Plaintiff’s friends left at 12:30 p.m. Thereafter plaintiff consumed a half pint of mint gin. Between 3 and 4 p.m. plaintiff "started fussing" with his girlfriend. Somewhere between 6 and 7 p.m. plaintiff left the house and went to the Moonwalk Park in New Orleans' French Quarter (a place he had visited two to three times per week during the preceding four to five years). Along the way he purchased two 16-ounce Budweisers and a bag of popcorn. Rather than take the properly designated and signaled grade pedestrian crossing, plaintiff took an unauthorized shortcut via a route through a parking lot, across street car and railroad tracks and past a chain and bollard divider going up the slope of the rise to the Moonwalk. There plaintiff listened to music via radio headphones, as well as to musicians playing saxophones and trumpets on nearby benches. Plaintiff left via the same route which he had arrived. As plaintiff neared right of way of the Public Belt Railroad, plaintiff’s field of vision was unobstructed. He saw nothing, however. Moreover, he did not feel the vibration of a slowly approaching train. According to plaintiff’s trial testimony, he caught a "glimpse" of a train out of the comer of his eye and tried to jump out of the way. He remembered nothing further. Two mounted policemen who were patrolling the Moonwalk that night heard the train blow its horn. About 50 feet down river from where the train passed them, the officers saw plaintiff lying on his back. His leg had been severed. Plaintiff had his headphones on his head and appeared to be intoxicated. Some two and a half hours after the incident, plaintiff’s blood alcohol level was .256. When suit was filed, the railroad was included as a defendant. The owner of the parking area and operator of the Moonwalk were dismissed. The case proceeded to a bench trial against the railroad. At the conclusion of the evidence the court found in favor of plaintiff for over $2.9 million based on the train crew's failure to keep a vigilant lookout, failure to sound the horn and excessive speed. However, thirty-five percent comparative negligence was assessed to plaintiff. Judgment was entered in favor of plaintiff for $1.843 million.
The appeals court reversed the judgment. It first found that the trial court improperly relied on the claim of excessive speed as a predicate for railroad liability inasmuch as such a claim was preempted since the train was operating within limits set by federal regulation and its own internal rules at the time of the accident. The court also concluded that liability could not be predicated on the alleged failure to sound a horn in view of the uncontradicted testimony of the train crew (as well as the police officers) that the horn was sounded at all vehicular crossings. The final potential basis of liability, failure to keep a lookout, was not met as the court concluded that: (a) plaintiffs expert was not qualified to render an opinion on the subject; and (b) the doctrine of my ipsa loquitur was inapplicable because the extreme nature of plaintiff s inebriation made it just as likely that, if not more so, that plaintiff was the sole cause of his own injuries rather than the victim of any breach of duty. Cooper v. Public Belt Railroad, Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit, Case No. 2003-CA-2116. Gregory C. Weiss and Michael J. Hall of Weiss and Eason, New Orleans, LA for plaintiff. Harry S. Hardin, III and Madeleine Fischer of Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere and Denegre, New Orleans, LA for defendant.
Union Pacific Machinist Blames Repetitive Stress for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome — Missouri Jury Awards $2 Million. The plaintiff worked as a machinist at UP's North Little Rock locomotive repair facility where his work duties there involved the use of large and heavy impact wrenches with his arms in elevated positions for extended periods of time. Ultimately plaintiff developed Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a cumulative trauma shoulder injury. In his suit plaintiff claimed that the railroad failed to acknowledge the existence of cumulative trauma injuries on a system wide basis and failed to implement safety measures to prevent such injuries even though internal railroad documents contained specific information about how to prevent such injuries. The jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff for $2 million. Kenneth Harris v. Union Pacific Railroad, St. Louis City (MO) Circuit Court, Case No. ___.
RCSI welcomes your input. If you have any questions or comments of interest to our industry, please contact either Dave Gardner or Randal Little at (731) 967-1796 or FAX your message to (731) 967-1788.
Visit the Railway Claim Services, Inc. webpage located atwww.railway-claim-services.com. Railway Claim Services, Inc. is the recognized leader in independent railroad claims management, which includes investigation, negotiations, and all those things in between. If RCSI is not already a partner in your loss control and claims management program are you accepting too much risk?
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