Railroad engineer claims spinal injuries in suit against CSX

Kelly Holleran Jun. 18, 2009, 3:21am

A former CSX Transportation employee says he sustained severe spinal injuries after the seat on which he was riding collapsed.

George M. Gettle filed a lawsuit June 9 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against CSX Transportation.

Gettle says he was working for the company as a locomotive engineer on June 15, 2007, where he was assigned to run a train into the Rose Lake Yard in East St. Louis.

As he was driving the locomotive engine CSX 7615, Gettle's seat suddenly and without warning collapsed, causing Gettle to drop, according to the complaint.

"At the time and place aforesaid, the Plaintiff, George M. Gettle, sustained injuries to his spine and its related structures which were caused, in whole or in part, by the aforesaid occurrence," the suit states.

Gettle says his spinal injuries also occurred because of his work for the railroad for the past 20 years.

Because of his injuries, Gettle suffered great pain and disability, mental anguish and extreme nervousness and lost large sums of money from his usual gainful occupation, according to the complaint. He has also sustained an impaired earning capacity, incurred medical costs and lost a normal life, the suit states.

CSX negligently failed to provide Gettle with a safe work place; failed to provide safe conditions, safe methods or safe equipment for work; failed to adequately maintain its tracks; failed to equip its locomotives with ergonomically safe seats; failed to warn Gettle of the ergonomic risks of his job and failed to alter the work environment, the complaint says.

It also violated the Locomotive Inspection Act by failing to provide Gettle with locomotives whose appurtenances were in proper and safe condition, by requiring Gettle to work on locomotives that were defective and that would vibrate excessively and by requiring Gettle to work on locomotives where he was subject to excessive and violent lateral motion, Gettle says.

In addition, CSX violated the Federal Employers' Liability Act and the code of federal regulations, according to the complaint.

In the five-count suit, Gettle is seeking a judgment of more than $250,000, plus costs.

Ryan Brennan of The Brennan Law Firm in Belleville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-300.

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