Mass Tort and Toxic Tort Litigation – Representative Matters
Attorneys in This Practice Area
- Kevin C. Alexandersen
- Nicole E. Bazzy
- David A. Damico
- Daniel B. Donahoe
- William J. Donovan
- Brooke L. Hamilton
- Daniel J. Hampton
- Patrick M. Horvat
- Jeffrey A. Jackson
- T.H. Lyda
- Colleen A. Mountcastle
- Holly M. Olarczuk-Smith
- Edwin B. Palmer
- Amanda H. Sargent
- Richard S. Sigurdson II
- Steven E. Sinkway
- John Michael Steidle
- James A. Young
Related Practice Groups
David A. Damico, Esquire
T.H. Lyda, Esquire
Kevin C. Alexandersen, Esquire
Daniel B. Donahoe, Esquire
- Secured a motion to dismiss in a mesothelioma case pending against two railroad clients. The plaintiff, a former employee of DAP, alleged that he contracted mesothelioma as a result of unloading bags of asbestos from railroad boxcars. In his opinion granting defendants motion to dismiss, the judge concluded that the railroad companies “owed no duty to the Plaintiff for any potential harm he might have incurred due to the dangerous nature of the materials transported in the railroad car…” and that “the only duty owed by the defendants to consignors and consignees was to provide a safe and reliable railroad car for the loading, transporting and removal of the asbestos bags.”
- Obtained two defense verdicts for a major railroad company in two alleged solvent-induced brain damage cases. The plaintiffs alleged exposure to various chemicals over the course of their 23-year careers, including paints and degreasing agents. Plaintiffs offered testimony at trial that PET scans and MRIs of the plaintiffs demonstrated white matter disease and diffuse brain injuries. After two weeks of trial, the jury returned defense verdicts finding that the railroad provided both plaintiffs with reasonably safe places to work.
- Obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a railroad client in an occupational cancer case in Philadelphia County. The plaintiff alleged that he developed bladder cancer as a result of occupational exposure to secondhand smoke during the course of his forty years of railroad employment. After a four-day trial, the jury reached a defense verdict after deliberating for approximately 40 minutes.
- In a matter that commenced in Albany, NY, attorneys successfully defended a leukemia cancer claim asserted against a railroad client based on exposures to diesel exhaust and other toxic chemicals. After several months of discovery, Jackson and Sargent received a summary judgment ruling in favor of the railroad client and dismissing Plaintiff’s claims pursuant to the statute of limitations under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (“FELA”). The Court found that Plaintiff failed to timely file their cancer lawsuit under the FELA, and dismissed the case.
- Obtained a summary judgment motion for two major railroad carriers in a cancer case filed in State Supreme Court, Erie County, New York. Plaintiff brought his action under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) alleging that the railroads negligently exposed him to diesel exhaust over the course of his career and that this exposure had caused his cancer. The ruling is significant as the railroads were granted summary judgment based on a pre-diagnosis notice of a cancerous disease by proving that a reasonable person should have been investigating a possible injury as well as its possible causes before the formal diagnosis. Although the plaintiff claimed that he connected his work as a potential cause of his cancer after happening to see an attorney advertisement on television, the trial court held that seeing an attorney advertisement did not fulfill the plaintiff’s affirmative duty to investigate. Furthermore, the trial court held that under FELA’s strict discovery rule, the accrual of a claim does not await awareness by the plaintiff that his injury was negligently inflicted.
- Obtained summary judgment and dismissed a case in the New York Supreme Court of Onondaga County. The court granted Burns White’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. Plaintiff alleged exposure to benzene and diesel exhaust during Decedent’s railroad employment caused his cancer, resulting in his death. Burns White filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal under res judicata, arguing they were precluded from fling the same claim in New York that had been dismissed in Pennsylvania. The case was originally filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and dismissed on Preliminary Objections. Plaintiff refiled the case in Onondaga County (Rochester, NY).
- Before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, attorneys obtain victory for a railroad client. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a corporation, incorporated outside of Pennsylvania, and with its principal place of business also located outside of Pennsylvania, is not subject to the general jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts if it registers to do business in Pennsylvania. In the case decided by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Plaintiff, a resident of Virginia and an employee of the railroad client, sued the railroad pursuant to the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (“FELA”) in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, for personal injuries allegedly caused by his railroad employment. Plaintiff alleged he was exposed to hazardous substances in the course of his railroad employment, causing him to develop colon cancer. He did not allege that any of his exposures that allegedly caused his injuries occurred in Pennsylvania. He based his arguments for personal jurisdiction in the Pennsylvania courts on the grounds that the out-of-state railroad defendant had registered to do business in Pennsylvania, pursuant to Pennsylvania’s mandatory registration requirement. The Trial Court initially granted the railroad’s motion to dismiss, accepting Burns White’s argument that Pennsylvania’s mandatory foreign corporation registration scheme violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Trial Court examined a long line of case authority from the Supreme Court of the United States and held that compliance with the mandatory statutory registration provision did not mean that the railroad had voluntarily “consented” to the general jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts. Plaintiff then appealed this ruling to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Due to the constitutional issues involved, the Superior Court transferred the appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its December 2021 ruling, unanimously affirmed the Trial Court’s ruling and held that the mandatory registration provision violated the railroad’s due process rights. The Supreme Court concluded that it was unconstitutional for Pennsylvania courts to assert general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation that did not have systematic and continuous contacts with Pennsylvania. It further found that compliance with Pennsylvania’s scheme did not amount to a voluntary “consent” to be haled into Pennsylvania’s courts. This decision will serve to help foreign corporations avoid being sued in Pennsylvania in situations where there is no real connection between the underlying case and the Commonwealth.
- Obtained dismissal for a railroad carrier. The Plaintiff dismissed case after we filed a motion for summary judgment based upon failure to establish a statutory beneficiary. The Plaintiff had alleged he developed esophageal cancer resulting in his death at age 57, secondary to diesel exhaust, asbestos, and creosote exposure working as a carman for the railroad carrier. The case was dismissed by the Plaintiff instead of filing a response to the motion filed.
- Obtained a summary judgment for a large railroad carrier in a cancer case filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama. Plaintiff alleged he developed kidney and brain cancer secondary to diesel exhaust, creosote, and asbestos while working at Norfolk Southern as a locomotive engineer in and around Montgomery, AL. Attorneys Jackson and Brown filed a motion for summary judgment under statute of limitations, alleging Plaintiff had no capacity to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the estate before the expiration of the statute of limitations. The court agreed, granting the motion and dismissing the case.
- Obtained a summary judgment motion for two major railroad carriers in a respiratory disease case filed in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, Ohio. Plaintiff brought his action under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) alleging that the railroads negligently exposed him to diesel exhaust over the course of his career and that this exposure had caused his asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the summary judgment motion, the railroads argued that plaintiff’s claim was time-barred because plaintiff had been repeatedly told by his treating physician, more than three years prior to filing the action, that his respiratory illnesses were caused by his alleged exposure to diesel exhaust on the railroad. In addition, the railroads argued that the action was barred by the doctrine of judicial estoppel due to plaintiff’s failure to disclose the potential FELA claim as an asset in his bankruptcy proceeding. The trial court concluded that plaintiff’s action was time-barred. In reaching this determination, the trial court rejected plaintiff’s argument that a FELA claim accrues when a treating physician conclusively tells the plaintiff that the injury is more likely than not caused by his work and when the plaintiff learns, through consultation with counsel, that a viable legal claim exists. The trial court reiterated that under the discovery rule, a FELA claim accrues when a reasonable person knows or should have known that a possible cause of an injury is work- related. Additionally, the trial court concluded that the action was barred by the doctrine of judicial estoppel. In reaching this determination, the trial court rejected the argument that plaintiff had no potential claim until his treating physician conclusively told him that his railroad work was likely a cause of his respiratory illnesses and he had consulted with counsel. The trial court recognized that two months after receiving a bankruptcy discharge, plaintiff informed the railroad’s claims department of his personal injury claim and then filed his lawsuit. Furthermore, in his discovery responses, plaintiff admitted that he was aware that his alleged exposure to diesel exhaust had been causing his respiratory problems over the last couple of years.
- Plaintiff dismissed a case filed in the Supreme Court of New York County after attorneys filed a motion for summary judgment based upon statute of limitations. Plaintiff had alleged he developed bladder cancer secondary to diesel exhaust and creosote exposure working as a machine operator for a large railroad carrier for several years. The case was dismissed by Plaintiff instead of filing a response to the motion.
- Plaintiff alleged he developed kidney cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma secondary to diesel exhaust and benzene exposure while working for a large railroad carrier for several years as a signal maintainer. In Hendricks County, Indiana, attorneys filed motions to exclude Plaintiff’s medical causation expert and industrial hygiene expert, as well as a motion to dismiss under the statute of limitations. After briefing, and a Daubert hearing and argument, the court granted all three motions and dismissed the case.
- Obtained a unanimous defense verdict in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleged that Plaintiff’s Decedent contracted acute myeloid leukemia and subsequently passed away as a result of exposure to benzene from diesel exhaust over the course of his 40 years of railroad employment as a conductor. Plaintiff claimed damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act and the Locomotive Inspection Act. Extensive fact, medical and scientific testimony was presented at the trial which took place November 1 through November 8, 2021. The jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the defendant railroad finding no negligence and no violation of the Locomotive Inspection Act.
- Obtained a summary judgment motion for two major railroad carriers in an oropharynx cancer case filed in Lucas County Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiff brought his action under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) alleging that the railroads negligently exposed him to diesel exhaust and asbestos over the course of his career and that this exposure had caused his cancer. In the summary judgment motion, the railroads argued that plaintiff’s claim was time-barred because plaintiff had knowledge of all the essential facts he needed at the time of his diagnosis to conduct a reasonable inquiry as to whether his cancer was potentially related to his railroad employment. At the time of the cancer diagnosis, plaintiff knew that his alleged exposure to asbestos and diesel posed a hazard. Plaintiff performed an internet search about the type of cancer he had but claimed that he did not learn much from his search. Plaintiff initiated his lawsuit only after seeing a legal advertisement on Facebook addressing railroad workers that had contracted cancer. To demonstrate plaintiff’s failure to make a reasonably diligent effort to discover the potential cause of his injury, the railroads presented evidence of internet advertisements, articles, and videos that would have resulted from a reasonably diligent internet search at the time plaintiff was diagnosed with cancer, which was undisputed by plaintiff. The trial court concluded that plaintiff’s action was time-barred. In reaching this determination, the trial court rejected plaintiff’s argument that viewing a Facebook advertisement constituted the accrual of his claim because that would implicitly excuse plaintiff’s duty to investigate the potential cause of his injury and effectively extend the claim’s accrual date to any later time plaintiff by chance happened upon the advertisement. The trial court further concluded that, at best, plaintiff merely learned of a potential legal claim when he saw the advertisement on Facebook, but everything he knew about his cancer and its potential cause was already known to him at the time of his diagnosis. Mr. Alexandersen and Mrs. Olarczuk-Smith are pleased with the outcome of this matter as this case can be used in other FELA cases nationally in support of similar time-bar arguments.
- Obtained summary judgment on behalf of Railroad Defendants, in the Circuit Court for Wicomico County, Maryland. Plaintiff, a railroad conductor, alleged in his lawsuit that he developed bladder cancer as a result of exposure to a variety of substances during his railroad employment. However, we argued and the Court agreed that Plaintiff previously released his ability to pursue such a claim when he executed a Prior Release in a similar 2002 lawsuit. Following oral argument, the Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed all claims.
- Successfully obtained the exclusion of Plaintiffs’ noise testing expert in a nuisance class action matter in the Northern District of Ohio. Plaintiffs filed a putative class action suit alleging that the noise generated from the car retarders in their client’s rail yard created a nuisance affecting their use and enjoyment of their property. Plaintiffs’ expert attempted to establish that noise levels from the defendant’s rail operations exceeded permissible EPA noise standards. Damico and Palmer successfully argued that the testimony of Plaintiffs’ expert should be excluded under Daubert as he failed to use a scientifically reliable methodology to identify retarder sounds and calculate noise levels.
- Obtained summary judgement on behalf of a Railroad Defendant in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff, a railroad trackman/machine operator, alleged in his lawsuit that he developed cumulative trauma injuries to his neck, as a result of exposure to whole body vibration and awkward posture while operating railroad maintenance equipment during his railroad employment. Plaintiff retained an expert in occupational medicine and whole body vibration exposure, who opined that Plaintiff’s work for the railroad caused his neck injury. Hampton argued that the opinions of Plaintiff’s expert failed to comply with the requirements for the admissibility of expert testimony set forth in Federal Rule of Evidence 702, and in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and that his testimony should be excluded. Without admissible expert evidence of medical causation, Hampton argued that Plaintiff had failed to establish each of the elements of FELA negligence, and that summary judgment was warranted. The Court found that the expert had failed to cite any scientific literature in support of his opinion that Plaintiff’s specific neck injuries were caused by whole body vibration exposure, and that his conclusions were not based on good grounds. The Court further found that the expert had relied upon information obtained from Plaintiff, but that he had not conducted any observations, tests, or measurements of his own, in order to corroborate Plaintiff’s claims. The Court found that the expert’s opinions failed to comply with the fitness and reliability requirements of Rule 702 and Daubert, and the opinions were therefore inadmissible. The Court found that, because Plaintiff had failed to produce admissible evidence of medical causation, he had also failed to prove the element of causation required for a cognizable FELA claim, and the Court entered summary judgment in favor of the railroad defendant.
- Obtained a nonsuit on behalf of a Railroad Defendant, in a trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Plaintiff, a railroad conductor, alleged in his lawsuit that he developed cumulative trauma injuries to his knees, resulting in bilateral knee surgeries, as a result of walking on ballast and climbing on and off locomotives and rail cars during his railroad employment. Plaintiff retained an expert in occupational medicine, who opined that Plaintiff’s work for the railroad caused his knee injuries. Prior to the commencement of trial, Judge Ann Butchart, of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, heard argument on a motion to exclude the expert’s testimony, but deferred her ruling on the Motion. Following cross-examination of the expert, and the close of Plaintiff’s evidence, Judge Butchart ruled that the expert had failed to cite to any scientific literature in support of his medical causation opinion, and that he had not established that his opinions were the result of a reliable scientific methodology. Because Plaintiff was unable to proceed with his case without evidence of medical causation, the judge granted a Motion for Nonsuit, dismissing Plaintiff’s claims.
- A jury in Philadelphia returned a no negligence verdict in a claim brought against a Class I railroad. Attorney Daniel B. Donahoe defended the railroad in a FELA case alleging a former employee developed colon cancer. The trial began February 2nd and concluded February 6th in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
- Obtained a dismissal of Plaintiff’s case on behalf of a Class 1 Railroad in a case in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Plaintiff, a former railroad employee, alleged in his lawsuit that he developed chronic myeloid leukemia (“CML”) as a result of his exposure to diesel exhaust and benzene during his railroad employment. Plaintiff retained an expert medical oncologist who opined that Plaintiff’s exposure to diesel exhaust and benzene in diesel exhaust caused his CML. Prior to the commencement of trial, a motion to exclude the testimony of Plaintiff’s medical expert was argued before Judge Charles Cunningham III of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Judge Cunningham ruled that there was too great a gap between the expert’s cited literature in his report and his conclusions he reached in the case, and excluded his opinion. Because Plaintiff was unable to proceed with his case without his medical causation expert, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s case.
- Obtained a summary judgment for a Class I railroad in a case brought by multiple plaintiffs seeking certification of a class action on behalf of residents of Hyndman, Pennsylvania who were evacuated following a 2017 derailment. U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson ruled that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by Pennsylvania’s economic loss doctrine. The economic loss doctrine bars recovery of purely economic damages where a plaintiff has not sustained physical injury or property damage. As Judge Gibson explained in his ruling, “A defendant must cause ‘actual physical harm’ to a plaintiff’s property for the plaintiff to recover economic losses as a result of the conduct. Mere denial of access to property is an economic loss that does not by itself satisfy the physical harm requirement. Although plaintiffs assert they suffer from fear and anxiety as a result of the derailment, those symptoms have not physically manifested … Fear and anxiety without physical manifestation are economic losses that are not recoverable under Pennsylvania law.” Based on his ruling granting summary judgment, Judge Gibson further held that the resident’s motion for class certification was moot.
- Obtained a defense verdict in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on behalf of a Railroad Defendant. Plaintiff alleged that he developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome due to his work as a railroad conductor. He alleged that his injuries developed due to exposure to cumulative trauma as a result of operating switches, setting/ releasing handbrakes, and otherwise performing the job duties of a conductor. The trial took place from November 12 through November 15, 2019, and Plaintiff claimed damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), including damages related to the two surgeries that he underwent, as a result of his condition. In addition to Plaintiff’s own testimony, Plaintiff’s counsel presented the testimony of a doctor of rehabilitative medicine and an industrial hygienist; experts in the areas of medical causation and ergonomics testified on behalf of Defendant. The jury found that Plaintiff’s workplace was reasonably safe, and returned a verdict in favor of the Railroad Defendant.
- Obtained a unanimous defense verdict in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleged he contracted multiple myeloma as a result of his work at three railroads from 1975 until 2007. It was alleged his multiple myeloma was the result of exposure to benzene from diesel exhaust. In the trial that took place September 20 through September 27, 2019, Plaintiff claimed damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) and Locomotive Inspection Act. In addition to testimony from plaintiff and plaintiff’s spouse, both the plaintiff’s counsel and defense presented divergent expert testimony from industrial hygienists and oncologists. After a week-long trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the railroad defendants, finding no negligence and no violation of the Locomotive Inspection Act.
- Obtained defense verdict on behalf of a major railroad client. Plaintiff counsel alleged decedent was exposed to asbestos and diesel exhaust while working in the company’s rail yards between 1966 and 1991, resulting in his death from lung cancer at the age of 71. Decedent stopped smoking in 1991. After a week-long trial, the jury returned a verdict in less than 10 minutes, finding no negligence on the part of the railroad.
- Obtained jury verdict in favor of the railroad defendants, finding no medical causation. Plaintiff sued two Class I railroads in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania alleging that he developed lung cancer as a result of his alleged exposures to asbestos and diesel exhaust while working as a machinist in the Juniata, Pennsylvania shop from 1976-2007. The plaintiff underwent a right lung lobectomy, followed by radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation burned his esophagus, and led to a 50-pound weight loss. After a brief remission, plaintiff developed Stage 4 lung cancer in his other lung. The defendants maintained his history of smoking—with some additional contribution from his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam—caused his lung cancer.
- Obtained summary disposition in favor of the railroad in three Michigan cases in which former railroad employees claimed the development of lung or prostate cancer due to alleged workplace exposures. In Wayne County and Calhoun County, Michigan, the respective Circuit Courts granted summary disposition to the railroads finding that the plaintiffs’ 2017 lawsuits were time-barred because the plaintiffs failed to timely investigate the causes of their cancers within the three year statute of limitations applicable to claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.
- Obtained summary disposition in favor the railroad in Wayne County, Michigan. The Circuit Court granted summary disposition to the railroad based on lack of standing and lack of subject matter jurisdiction because although the named plaintiff was the “representative of an estate” of a former railroad employee, there was no estate for the decedent in existence at the time the complaint was filed. Plaintiff did not appeal from any of the summary disposition decisions.
- Successfully preserved favorable trial court rulings and a minimal federal jury award for a plaintiff who sued the railroad following a train derailment and subsequent release of vinyl chloride in New Jersey. The plaintiff claimed that as a result of the derailment, he experienced physical ailments, as well as emotional distress from the fear he would develop cancer. Following a week-long trial led by Dave Damico, the jury awarded plaintiff $500 for pain and suffering and emotional distress. Plaintiff appealed the award arguing that the trial court erred in excluding his medical expert and granting summary judgment to the railroad on his medical-monitoring and fear-of-cancer claims. The Third Circuit rejected plaintiff’s contentions and upheld the verdict, holding that the lower court properly found that his expert witness did not proffer reliable evidence that his cancer risk increased.
- Received defense verdict in a multi-million dollar ride-quality case on behalf of a Class 1 railroad client. Plaintiff was a 54-year old locomotive engineer claiming injuries under the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA), and violations of the Locomotive Inspection Act due to whole-body vibration exposure, and loose, wobbly and poorly designed and maintained locomotive seats during his 24 year career at the railroad. He underwent two back surgeries, including a multi-level lumbar spinal fusion, and had lost wages and incurred medical expenses greater than $1 million dollars. Plaintiff’s counsel asked for $2.5 million during closing argument. After three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the railroad on all claims.
- Obtained successful appellate decision from the Pennsylvania Superior Court for a major railroad client, affirming a grant of summary judgment in lawsuit seeking damages under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) involving interpretation of a release agreement. Plaintiff brought a lawsuit claiming that he developed lung cancer as a result of workplace exposure to asbestos. The railroad obtained summary judgment, arguing that the lawsuit was barred by a prior release agreement the plaintiff had executed which settled the earlier asbestos exposure lawsuit. On appeal, the Superior Court, in a published opinion, affirmed, holding that, based on the release language, the plaintiff was put on notice that subsequent injury claims arising out of the asbestos exposure alleged in the first lawsuit was sufficient to bar the second lawsuit alleging development of cancer arising from the same alleged asbestos exposure.
- Successfully received a defense verdict on behalf of a major railroad client in a 2.5-week Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) case trial in New York state court, where the plaintiff boarded roughly $200,000 in wage losses and alleged a 25% permanent disability for advanced degenerative changes in his lumbar spine and subsequent spinal fusion. After the defense team argued that the client provided a reasonably safe place to work and that the plaintiff’s back degeneration was due to a preexisting congenital pars defect, the jury found that the railroad did not violate the Locomotive Inspection Act and had provided the plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work under FELA.
- Successfully obtained a defense motion in limine to preclude the plaintiff’s causation testimony, as well as a motion for a summary judgment in favor of two major railroad clients, where a former worker was demanding over $350,000 in damages for injuries to his wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, back and knees under FELA.
- Successfully provided risk management consulting services to a short line railroad confronted with novel personal injury litigation. On behalf of the railroad, Burns White assembled standard defense experts and implemented a defense strategy with local counsel.
- Successfully provided regulatory compliance consulting services to segments of the transportation and chemical industries confronted with onerous proposed federal regulations.
- Successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of a railroad in the New York Supreme Court in Erie County in a case in which a former railroad employee who had signed a release following a claim settlement for asbestos exposure later filed a new suit alleging his bladder cancer resulted from occupational exposure. Burns White argued that the release the plaintiff signed in 1996 should bar his current cancer suit. Our team convinced the court to adopt the “known risk” standard, which holds releases valid if they acknowledge the known risk of developing a future injury, even if the plaintiff does not have the injury at the time the release was signed. Adopting Burns White’s argument in its entirety, the judge dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.
- Obtained defense verdicts on behalf of a national engineering firm in three cases involving alleged design defects in the Port Authority of Allegheny County’s Light Rail Transit system. Two cases involved falls by pedestrians at a crossing or platform and the third involved a serious accident involving a pedestrian at a crossing.
- Obtained two defense verdicts for a major Class 1 railroad in two alleged solvent-induced brain damage cases. Plaintiffs alleged exposure to various chemicals, paints and degreasing agents over the course of their 23-year long careers. Plaintiffs offered testimony at trial that PET scans and MRIs demonstrated white matter disease and diffuse brain injuries. After two weeks of trial, the jury returned defense verdicts finding that the railroad provided both plaintiffs with reasonably safe places to work.
- Successfully represented a quasi-public agency in litigation concerning the total reconstruction of approximately nine miles of interstate highway, including geotechnical issues of roadway design and construction, limiting the contractor’s damage award to $74,000 on a $17.8 million claim.
- Successfully defended a Class 1 railroad in a two-week jury trial in which it was alleged that the plaintiff’s exposure to repetitive bending, lifting and twisting on the job as a trackman led to his herniated and bulging lumbar and cervical disks resulting in his disability. The plaintiff sought damages in excess of $1 million for future wage loss. The jury returned a defense verdict.
- Successfully obtained the dismissal of a structural engineering firm from a lawsuit involving severe injury to pedestrian who was injured while using a crosswalk on the traffic detour set up during bridge closure. Through discovery, Burns White was able to establish that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s general conditions discussing responsibility for safety of the traveling public did not extend to bridge designers.
- Successfully defended two Class 1 railroads in a three-week jury trial in which the plaintiff alleged that his neck and back injuries and resultant total disability was due to whole body vibration exposure and poorly designed locomotive seats and engines throughout his career working on the railroad. The jury returned a defense verdict on plaintiff’s claims of occupational long-term vibration exposure.