View

Transportation lawyers secure favorable verdicts for railroad clients in four consecutive cases

In the last four cases, Burns White Transportation lawyers have secured three defense verdicts and one favorable verdict for railroad clients in occupational injury claims. Following are some highlights of each case.

  1. Member and Co-Chair of the Transportation Group T.H. Lyda and Member Daniel J. Hampton obtained a favorable verdict for two major railroad clients in a two-week long jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The claim, brought under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), involved a bridge and building worker claiming that our clients’ negligence caused him to develop a torn rotator cuff, which led to surgery, and to his alleged disability. The jury found the plaintiff to be 50% at fault, and awarded him damages amounting to half of the railroads’ final offer of settlement, and less than a third of the plaintiff’s final demand.
  2. Mr. Lyda and Associate Christine Hardy successfully obtained a defense verdict for a major Class I railroad client in a week-long jury trial held in Philadelphia. The claim, brought under FELA, involved a machinist welder plaintiff claiming that our client’s negligence caused the onset of arthritis in his lumbar spine and left hand which led to surgery and his ultimate disability. The jury, which only took about an hour to deliberate, dismissed all claims concluding that the railroad provided the plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work.
  3. Mr. Lyda and Associate Candace G. Ragin represented two Class I railroads in a seven-day trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Plaintiff, a 63-year-old machinist, claimed that he developed degenerative disk disease in his low back, bilateral knee and elbow arthritis due to his work at a car shop and locomotive shops while working with the railroads. Mr. Lyda and his team argued that the plaintiff had a preexisting genetic arthritis which was supported by medical testimony and pre-employment x-rays demonstrating moderate degenerative changes in the plaintiff’s lumbar spine at the age of 24. After only two hours of deliberation, the jury found that both railroad clients provided the plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work.
  4. Mr. Lyda and Member Edwin B. Palmer obtained a defense verdict for two Class I railroad clients in a three-day trial held in the Blair County Court of Common Pleas. The plaintiff, a 62-year-old former conductor, alleged that he developed occupational hearing loss and repetitive stress injuries to his spine and upper and lower extremities over the course and scope of his employment with both railroads. He ultimately stipulated to the dismissal of his repetitive stress claims, and the trial proceeded with his occupational hearing loss claim. At trial, Burns White attorneys established that the plaintiff failed to follow safety rules and would not wear hearing protection that was provided to him and as such proved that he was contributorily negligent. They also argued that his hearing loss was a function of the natural aging process. After less than a 30-minute deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our railroad clients.

Note: The results obtained in a particular case are heavily dependent on the facts and the law specific to that case.