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Florida Supreme Court Takes FELA Case Involving Railroad Worker Death

Almost 10 years after a CSX railroad conductor died in a remote part of Florida as he worked for the railroad, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up a lawsuit about CSX Transportation’s duty to provide medical assistance.

The widow of the deceased train worker, Larry Sells, appealed to the FL Supreme Court after the First District Court of Appeal ruled for CSX in the medical negligence case. Sells died from a heart attack in August 2006 after he went to manually operate a track switch in a remote part of Clay County FL.

Federal-Employee-Liability

A co-worker found him within two minutes and called CSX for help, but the dispatcher could not clearly communicate where the stricken man was, and the EMTs did not arrive for 35 minutes.

The lawsuit alleges that CSX did not provide a safe workplace, which should have included a lack of automated external defibrillators.

The First District Court of Appeals sided with CSX last May, stating that while CSX did have to provide prompt medical treatment once it knew the man was ill, it did not have a duty to take measures in advance to prevent such an emergency situation.

However, the widow’s attorneys argued that CSX breached its duties under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and that the appeal court ruling could have serious repercussions throughout the US.

The brief filed by the plaintiff’s attorney stated that the appeals court decision could be used by FELA employers in state and federal courts to support their failure to take preemptive measures to ensure their workers get quick medical care in an emergency.