Jury selection underway in eight-year-old FELA case

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 13, 2008, 2:18am


Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack has started picking a panel of 12 jurors for a week long Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) trial.

The plaintiff, Granite City resident Charles Moore, filed the suit against Granite City Steel, Norfolk Southern Railway and Luria Brothers in 2000, alleging his left leg was traumatically amputated while working for Granite City Steel on Dec. 31, 1998.

Moore claims he was attempting to open a defective, frozen drawbar and coupling mechanism on a locomotive derrick crane, when a railroad car that had its handbrakes removed rolled down an inclined track crushing him between the crane and railroad car.

At trial, Moore will attempt to prove the defendants failed to provide him a safe place to work, required him to work with a defective locomotive derrick crane and failed to repair, service or maintain the frozen drawbar, knuckle and coupling mechanism.

Moore also will present evidence that the defendants provided and required him to work with defective, worn out and disrepaired equipment and appliances, removed the handbrake and braking system on the railroad car, required him to work on an inclined surface when the railroad cars did not have brakes and failed to provide him with proper equipment to perform his tasks.

Moore claims his injuries caused and still continue to cause pain and suffering, lost wages and medical expenses.

Moore's wife, Peggy Moore, will testify she has been damaged because she has suffered a loss of consortium in that she has been deprived of her husband's society, companionship and conjugal relationship.

Granite City Steel reached a confidential settlement with Moore prior to the trial.

Norfolk Southern will argue Moore's own conduct was the sole and proximate cause of the injuries he sustained.

According to court records, the railroad will present evidence that Moore failed to follow Granite City Steel safety rules and regulations, failed to ensure that the wood used to brake the railroad car was sufficient and adequate to do the job and placed himself in a position of danger by stepping in between the rails to attempt to move the allegedly frozen drawbar.

Norfolk also will argue Moore turned his back on a piece of rail equipment without having a spotter to ensure he had adequate warning if it began to move and failed to alert his supervisor that the railcar did not have handbrakes.

In addition, Norfolk will argue Moore is not attempting to find new employment or governmental or private rehabilitation.

Norfolk is represented by Charles Swartwout and Andrew Corkery of Belleville.

The Moores are represented by John Kujawski of O'Fallon.

They are seeking a judgment in excess of $800,000.

The trial is expected to last until Nov. 21.

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