William Peacock and Lester Cribbs were working as the brakeman and conductor on a freight train traveling from Waycross, Georgia. Just north of Homerville, Georgia, the train struck a tractor/trailer log truck that was attempting to cross the tracks. The tractor made it across the tracks, but the trailer with the logs was on the track at the moment of impact. This particular crossing, the Suwanee crossing, has a history of near misses by trains with log trucks with a fatality at the crossing in the late 1960’s. Mr. Peacock and Mr. Cribbs brought actions against their employer CSX under FELA claiming that the crossing was extra hazardous and that CSX failed to maintain vegetation around the crossing. The Plaintiffs also claimed that CSX failed to install warning lights and gates, and the derailment that occurred after impact was caused by a defective switch point foot lock.
Mr. Cribbs sustained neck and back injuries and ultimately had to undergo anterior cervical fusion at C5-6. Mr. Peacock underwent shoulder arthroscopy and has been recommended to undergo future anterior cervical fusion at C3-4. Both gentlemen have become vocationally impaired and have lost their careers at CSX.
Trial of this matter resulted in verdicts of $1,036,340.12 for Mr. Peacock and $905,000.43 for Mr. Cribbs. These verdicts are the largest cash awards ever delivered by a jury in a civil case against the Railroad in Clinch County, Georgia.
Plaintiff’s Experts: Charles G. Miller, vocational rehabilitation, L. Wayne Plumly, Jr., economist, and William Gordon, railroad liability. William L. Peacock and Willie Lester Cribbs v. CSX Transportation, Inc., Clinch County (GA) Suypeior Court, Case Nos. 99V-0050, 99V-0051, 99V-0134, and 99V-0066. Benjamin B. Saunders, Designated Legal Counsel for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, New Orleans (Metairie), LA for the Plaintiffs. Chris O’Donnell, Brunswick, GA for the defendant CSX.