December 15, 2016 – A federal jury returned a gross verdict in the amount $1,227,739.00 for a 46 year old Trackman/Welder injured in Chickasha, Oklahoma while working for Union Pacific.
On April 14, 2015, Terrell Johnson was injured working on a track gang that was installing a cross tie. His supervisor, rather than use the speed swing, or tie tongs, or back hoe that were available, had Terrell beat the tie in with a sledgehammer. We argued at trial that the work method selected by Union Pacific to install the tie violated Union Pacific’s track maintenance manuals and safety rules concerning the proper use of hand tools. Union Pacific denied liability and argued that sledgehammers are used for a number of tasks, including using sledgehammers to beat in cross ties. Union Pacific also argued that Plaintiff may have over-exerted himself while doing his job.
During the installation of the cross tie, Terrell injured his back at the L5-S1 level, and bone chips in his right elbow broke off, requiring elbow surgery. Before trial, Terrell also underwent an IDET procedure to his low back, which was a partial success. By the time of trial, Terrell’s treating neurosurgeon, Dr. Donald Dietze, had recommended a disc replacement surgery to his lumbar spine. Due to his injuries, Plaintiff’s treating doctors opined that he was only capable of sedentary/light duty work.
The jury deliberated for three hours finding in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of $1,227,739.00, less 20% comparative fault.
Terrell Johnson v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, USDC, Western District of Louisiana: For Plaintiff: Joseph M. Miller, Ben B. Saunders, Carisa Oden; Davis, Saunders, Miller & Oden Law Firm, Mandeville, Louisiana. For Defendant: Pamela Courtney, David Fraser; Fraser, Wheeler & Bergstedt, Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Donald Dietze, neurosurgeon; Dr. Douglas Brown, orthopedic surgeon; W. P. Culbertson, Ph.D., economist.
Defendant’s Experts: Dr. Carl Goodman, orthopedic surgeon; Bobby Moser, track maintenance; Terry Owens, Union Pacific Vocational Rehabilitation; Robert C. Eisenstadt, Ph.D., economist.