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$1.515 Million Jury Verdict for Railroad Bridge Helper

Special Acknowledgement to Attorney Richard Shapiro from Norfolk, Virginia for associating our firm as Co-counsel.

This was civil action brought by Plaintiff Cory Roberts, pursuant to the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (“FELA”) seeking compensatory recovery for his career-ending lower leg injury he suffered while employed as a railroad bridge repair worker/carpenter with the Illinois Central/Canadian National Railroad (“IC”).  A separate count of the suit sought recovery for personal injury damages against Currie Construction Company, Inc. (“Currie”), a bridge repair contractor retained by IC Railroad to do railroad bridge construction work at the time and place relevant to the case.  Under the FELA framework, IC, a railroad employer, has a non-delegable duty to provide its employees with a reasonably safe place to work. 

On August 4, 2011, Codefendants IC and Currie admitted liability with regard to the August 6, 2009 injury to Mr. Roberts.  On that date, Mr. Roberts was part of a crew including Currie Construction workers and IC Railroad workers renovating an elevated railway bridge in the Parish of Saint John the Baptist, Louisiana.

Roberts was on the bridge within the vicinity of a trackhoe (a large backhoe-type piece of heavy machinery) when the trackhoe operator suddenly swung a 1,000 pound rotten railroad wooden timber which struck Cory Roberts, knocked him to the bridge surface, and then the same timber suddenly fell and partly crushed Cory Roberts’ right lower leg.  Roberts and other witnesses described the nature of each of the two impacts, the wooden timber, the splinting of Roberts’ leg on the railroad bridge, the method in which Cory Roberts was lowered from the bridge to the ground level below the spillway bridge, and transported to the hospital.

Following numerous imaging studies at the River Parishes Hospital, surgical repair was conducted by Dr. William S. Johnson III, orthopedic surgeon on the same date, August 6, 2009, to repair Roberts’ fractured right tibia, to correct an oblique fracture of the fibula, and a displaced comminuted fracture of the tibia.  Dr. Johnson described opening the tibial canal to ream the canal, and driving a rod/nail through the tibia and then placing transverse screws through the rod/tibial nail in order to align and set the fracture to Roberts’ lower leg.

Also, as a result of being knocked to the bridge surface by a 1,000 pound railroad timber, the plaintiff suffered back pain and began regular chiropractic treatment with Chiropractic Center of McComb.

Because of ongoing chronic pain during the summer of 2010, Roberts was referred by his family medical practice to Dr. Craig Berteau, a neurologist.  As of August 2010, Dr. Berteau diagnosed plaintiff Roberts with traumatic injury to the right lower extremity, chronic pain to the right lower extremity with tibial rodding and right ankle pinning, and right lower extremity neuropathic pain.  Dr. Berteau diagnosed Roberts with complex regional pain syndrome secondary to the traumatic injury, meaning that Roberts had an inflammatory response (tissue irritation) as a result of the complications from the injury and resulting implantation of the tibial nail and screws.

Following a three day trial in August of 2011, the Jury returned a unanimous verdict in the amount of $1,515,000.00 in favor of Mr. Roberts.

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