Recently, ARP attorneys Daniel J. Hronek, Christopher T. Scolire, and Maureen A. McGuire obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a railroad in a case involving allegations under the Locomotive Inspection Act, a strict liability statute, and the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. On January 4, 2012, the plaintiff-conductor backed into a locomotive restroom and twisted his knee. The plaintiff alleged that the railroad violated the Locomotive Inspection Act and was negligent under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act for the layout and condition of the restroom. The plaintiff claimed that due to this incident, he needed to have a right knee arthroscopy and eventually a total right knee replacement, which prevented him from returning to work and now prevents him from enjoying his retired life.
The trial testimony from four other railroad employees, including employees who had inspected the restrooms before and after the alleged incident, revealed no unsanitary conditions or safety concerns. During trial, the evidence revealed that the restroom that the plaintiff used was the same design as the restroom commonly seen on this type of locomotive, which was manufactured in the 1970’s and commonly used on the railroad. Additionally, those employees testified that there was no reason to back into this restroom compartment, and it was unsafe for the plaintiff to do so.
As for the plaintiff’s claimed injuries, the railroad contended that he would have needed a total knee replacement regardless of any incident because of his severe pre-existing osteoarthritis, and that he has not seen any healthcare provider since July 2013 for any right lower extremity pain or limitations.
During closing arguments, Plaintiff asked for $2,595,622 ($395,622 lost wages; $200,000 disfigurement; $2,000,000 past and future pain and suffering). The jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, and also answered special interrogatories that the railroad did not violate the LIA and was not negligent under the FELA.