Union Pacific seeks dismissal of FELA suit

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 4, 2008, 12:58am

Judge Hylla

Thomas Jones

Union Pacific Railway wants a Madison County judge to dismiss a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) complaint with prejudice, arguing the allegations are vague.

Lincoln Brison of Arkansas filed the FELA complaint in October, alleging he received spinal injuries due to his job as a trackman.

Brison claims his job required him to make "highly repetitive stressful back motions and spine motions in his work activities and was required to work with unsafe heavy, awkward, vibrating and torquing equipment" which caused spine injuries that required thoracic surgery.

Because of his injuries, Brison claims he has been prevented from working since March 2007 causing a loss of his earning capacity and lost wages and benefits.

He also claims his back injuries caused and continues to cause pain, suffering and mental anguish and medical expenses.

In its Nov. 26, motion to dismiss, Union Pacific argues all Brison alleges is that he engaged in various physical activities while working as a trackman in the Maintenance of Way Department and subsequently developed low and mid back symptoms.

"There are absolutely no allegations contained within plaintiff's complaint which would give rise to a breach of any legal duty which Union Pacific Railroad Company would have owed the plaintiff," the motion states. "The plaintiff alleges conclusory allegations of negligence."

The railroad also argues that the complaint is brought pursuant to the FELA, however the FELA is neither a workers' compensation statute nor are they an insurer of the physical well-being of its employees.

"There are absolutely no allegations contained within plaintiff's complaint which allege when, where, or how the plaintiff allegedly sustained his injuries," the motion states.

Thomas Jones of Thompson Coburn in Belleville represents Union Pacific.

Brison's complaint alleges Union Pacific was negligent because it failed to provide him with a safe workplace, failed to furnish him with safe equipment, failed to provide equipment to mitigate the effects of the equipment he was using, failed to provide safe equipment and failed to prevent the types of stresses that caused the injury.

In addition, Brison argues Union Pacific negligently failed to provide work methods that do not place an unsafe strain on the spine and failed to ensure he was physically able to perform his tasks.

Daniel Francis of St. Louis represents Brison. He seeks monetary damages in excess of $50,000.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla set the motion for a hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 9.

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Organizations in this Story

Union Pacific
1400 Douglas St
Omaha, NE 68179

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