Hearing studies were for lawsuit defense, FELA complaint says

Ann Knef Jun. 18, 2008, 5:18pm

Norfolk Southern Railway worker George Ertel claims eye injuries in a Federal Employers' Liability Act suit filed June 12 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Employed with the railroad since 1979, Ertel claims Norfolk Southern failed to reduce noise levels or to provide heavy protection to employees working in the vicinity of lump yards, retarders and track machinery.

"...Plaintiff suffered injuries to his ears, inner ears, nerve endings in the head, tympanic membrane, ear drums and the tissues of the inner ears; he has suffered hearing loss; he has tinnitus; he has suffered psychological and emotional harm and all body systems have been affected...," the complaint states.

Ertel also alleges, among other things, that train whistles and/or horns were located in close proximity to occupants and the railroad failed to take steps to "engineer out" excessive noises.

He also alleges that the railroad "finally" instituted an audiometric testing program but failed to provide results to employees so as to enable them to determine their hearing level.

"They finally did comprehensive hearing tests and sound level studies at their facilities, not for the purpose of protecting the employees' hearing, but only for the purpose of developing a defense to hearing loss lawsuits," the complaint states.

Represented by Ryan M. Furniss, Steven L. Groves and Gerard B. Schneller of Holland, Groves, Schneller & Stolze in St. Louis, Ertel is seeking $100,000 in damages, plus costs.

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