Defense witness testifies, closing arguments to come in CSX FELA case

Amelia Flood Oct. 14, 2010, 9:24am

Collignon Gunn

A former supervisor of the plaintiff in a Madison County trial took the stand as the defense put on its case in a case against CSX Transportation.

Jurors were set to hear closing arguments in the case brought by plaintiff Russell Aper on Thursday afternoon.

Aper, a track inspector, is suing CSX for allegedly failing to provide him with a safe work place.

The alleged failure, the plaintiff claims, led Aper to injure his back in October 2006.

CSX counters that Aper failed to take the proper care or call for help when he moved track parts that allegedly caused the injury.

According to statements made at the trial's opening and in video deposition testimony from economist Leroy Grossman, the plaintiff could be seeking damages topping $500,000 including fringe benefits and lost wages.

The trial opened Tuesday with a day of jury selection.

Wednesday saw Aper's testimony and deposition testimony.

The start of the trial's second day of testimony was delayed until 10 a.m. as attorneys worked out jury instructions with Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth.

Aper's former supervisor, Chad Broski of Elk Park, Minn., took the stand to open the defense case.

Broski testified about CSX's emphasis on safety.

"That safety culture was the upmost from the first thing when you got in in the morning," Broski said. "The most important thing was for the employees to go home safely. We were a family."

Broski said that the railroad had daily and monthly safety meetings and that employees were free to call for help or to stop work they did not believe they could safely do.

He said Aper knew the proper lifting techniques and that he was also aware he could call for help if needed.

Broski said he was not aware of Broski's 15 year history of back problems until a September 2006 incident when Aper injured his back and had to go for medical treatment.

Broski said that Aper returned to work saying he was fine and that he had the proper clearance from his doctor.

Aper reinjured his back under a month after the September incident.
Broski said he had told Aper upon his return to work after the first injury that he needed to use proper lifting techniques or machine aids if necessary.

"That we couldn't afford for himself to get injured," Broski said.

Amy Collignon Gunn and Ann Brockland represent Aper.

Richard Nash represents CSX.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-562.

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