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The US Labor Department levied a $250,000 fine against New York-based Metro-North Railroad after it retaliated against an injured railroad worker. The Labor Department ordered Metro North to pay the punitive damages award to a train coach cleaner who hurt his leg on the job in November 2011 in Connecticut.
The federal government stated that a Metro North supervisor told the injured worker that management would file disciplinary charges and deny promotions to anyone who reported being hurt at work.
The $250,000 fine is the biggest that has ever been awarded for punitive damages for retaliation in the history of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. The railroad also must pay $10,000 to pay for the worker’s attorney costs.
During the case, the Labor Department cited other instances where the railroad apparently threatened to retaliate against injured workers. One case involved a woman who crushed her foot with a barrel. Rather than file an injury report, the hobbled woman came to work on crutches.
We are railroad injury attorneys in Virginia who have seen railroads routinely attempt to deny claims for on the job injuries. We have to say however, that the above attempt at retaliation against an injured worker on the job truly is a new low. We are glad that the Labor Department assessed such a large punitive award; hopefully it will warn other railroads to not attempt to intimidate injured workers!
A recent injured railroad worker case in Virginia we handled involved a railroad conductor who suffered a serious back injury after he fell due to an insecure ladder on a train car. Of course, the railroad denied responsibility, but we were able to show that the handhold on the ladder was insecure and that this was a regulatory violation. We also brought in a top notch railroad safety expert, who pointed out the specific regulations that had been violated. In the end, we were pleased with the $825,000 settlement in favor of our injured client.
A former switchman for Tacoma (WA) Rail has filed a lawsuit against the railroad. He contends that the railroad created a dangerous railroad work environment that contributed to the accident that caused him to lose a leg.
Nathan Johnson, 45, from Fife WA, is seeking damages for his pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses. An earlier claim with the city showed that he is seeking $6 million.
The lawsuit claims that he was trying to climb into a moving rail car when he fell partially under the train. The suit further states that Tacoma Rail actively encourages employees to climb onto and off moving trains to get work done faster and to reduce labor costs. Further, the claim states that the safety appliance on the railroad car were inadequate and in violation of the Federal Railway Safety Appliance Act.
Our extensive experience in Virginia and North Carolina as railroad accident attorneys has shown that railroads often will try to avoid their liability for workers’ injuries on the job. We have represented many railroad workers who have been badly injured on the job, and have been pleased to reach large settlements and verdicts for our railroad worker clients.
One of the most important things we want to stress is that railroad workers should not be afraid to take legal action against a railroad whose negligence may have led to your injury. In reality, there have been many successful personal injury lawsuits in recent years against railroads. Consult an expert railroad personal injury attorney in your state and the results can be highly favorable.