$4.2 million verdict in favor of a railroad employee hit by a rail car while switching
The plaintiff was a 35-year-old switchman for the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, a predecessor to Union Pacific. During switching operations, he was hit by coupled rail car that was traveling at a speed in excess of the railroad’s safety rules. His left leg was nearly severed below
the knee by the wheels, requiring several major surgeries.
At trial, evidence was presented that railroad management had ignored safety rules which prohibited cars from being coupled in excess of 4 mph, and that the unsafe speed used during coupling operations was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury. The railroad blamed the plaintiff for his injuries, arguing that his failure to keep a proper lookout was the entire cause of the accident.
The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $4,200,000, but found the plaintiff 5% at fault, reducing the award to $3,990,000.