FELA suit filed against Illinois Central

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 25, 2007, 3:00am

James Harris filed a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) suit against Illinois Central Railroad (ICR) in Madison County Circuit Court June 1, alleging it failed to provide him a safe place to work.

Harris, a trackman, alleges that from 1975 through 2007 he was injured while subjected to numerous repetitive in repairing railroad tracks for ICR.

Passed by the U.S. Congress in 1908, FELA was designed to protect and compensate railroaders who sustain injuries while working. Unlike state workers' compensation law, FELA requires the injured worker to prove that the railroad was "legally negligent," at least in part, in causing an injury.

Under FELA, injured workers can seek compensation for wage losses past and future, medical expenses and treatments, pain and suffering, and for partial or permanent disability. If an employee dies, survivors are entitled to recover damages which they have suffered because of the death.

After proving negligence, the injured worker is entitled to full compensation, which is usually many times greater than that provided by state workers' compensation benefits for non-railroaders which provide benefits on a no-fault basis.

He claims that ICR failed to provide safe methods of work, failed to provide sufficient manpower and failed to provide safe tools and equipment.

According to Harris, he sustained severe and permanent injuries to his knees and body, which has and will continue to cause him to suffer great pain and mental anguish, loss of wages and medical expenses.

Represented by Gregory Tobin of Pratt & Tobin in East Alton, Harris is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus costs of the suit.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Daniel Stack.

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