Trackman sues Norfolk Southern after backhoe flips

Kelly Holleran Feb. 24, 2009, 10:42am

A former Norfolk Southern Railway Company employee has filed suit against the railroad, alleging he was injured because of work he was forced to perform.

Russell R. O'Dell was working as a trackman and machine operator on April 5, 2006, when the backhoe he was operating in a confined space rolled off an embankment and flipped over, causing injuries to his neck and back, according to the complaint filed Feb. 17 in Madison County Circuit Court.

As a result of the incident, O'Dell suffered disability, disfigurement, great pain and mental anguish and lost earnings, the suit states.

He also incurred medical costs and experienced a diminished future earning capacity, he claims.

Throughout O'Dell's 34 years of work, he sustained repetitive and cumulative trauma to his body because of work he had to perform, according to the complaint.

Norfolk Southern was negligent on the April 5 incident by failing to provide a safe work place, by failing to provide sufficient manpower to perform the task assigned, by failing to provide safe and suitable tools and equipment to perform the work assigned and by failing to provide safe methods of work, according to the complaint.

Throughout O'Dell's tenure with the company, Norfolk Southern negligently and consistently exposed him to an unreasonably safe work place, consistently exposed him to walking on bad ballast, repeatedly exposed him to awkward body posture, consistently worked him without sufficient manpower, consistently required him to work excessive hours, repeatedly failed to provide him with proper tools and consistently exposed him to excessive vibrations, the suit states.

In the two-count suit, O'Dell is seeking a judgment in excess of $100,000, plus costs.

He is represented by Robert W. Schmieder of Pratt and Tobin in East Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0131.

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