Conductor requires back surgery after being injured in the Norfolk Southern Lula Yard, Lula, Georgia – $596,681.41 verdict after a 5 day trial.
James Hugh Schumpert was working as a conductor for Norfolk Southern Railway Company, transporting a train from Inman Yard in Atlanta, Georgia to a Toyota facility in Commerce, Georgia. When the crew arrived at Lula Yard in Lula Georgia, the brakeman opened the knuckle on one of the cars which was missing a knuckle pin. As a result of the missing pin, the knuckle fell out of the drawhead and needed to be replaced. Mr. Schumpert had to replace the knuckle since it was too heavy for his brakeman to handle, and so the crew could proceed to the Toyota facility to complete their job. After replacing the knuckle alone, Mr. Schumpert’s back began hurting him immediately and he suffered injuries because of the unsafe working conditions. Mr. Schumpert brought actions against his employer Norfolk Southern under the FELA claiming that Norfolk failed to provide him with a safe place to work by supplying defective couplers and failing to provide Mr. Schumpert with safe tools and equipment. As a result of this negligence, Mr. Schumpert had to undergo spinal surgery with multiple procedures at disc level L4-5 for his continued leg and lower back pain. Mr. Schumpert became vocationally impaired because of this accident and lost his career as a conductor. Trial of this matter lasted for 5 days in which time the jury returned a verdict in favor for Mr. Schumpert for $596,681.41.
Plaintiff’s Experts: Charles G. Miller, vocational rehabilitation, L. Wayne Plumly, Jr., economist, and Jimmy C. Scott, railroad liability. James Hugh Schumpert v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., State Court of Hall County (GA), Case No. 02-SV-1116-D. Benjamin B. Saunders, Designated Legal Counsel for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, New Orleans (Metairie), LA for the Plaintiff. William C. Thompson, Atlanta, GA and Weymon Forrester, Gainesville, GA for the Defendant Norfolk Southern.