Railroad Law – Representative Matters

  • Representative Matters

For more information about our firm’s Railroad Law practice, please contact:

David A. Damico

David A. Damico, Esquire

  • 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.