Jury awards plaintiff $2.56 million in FELA case against CSX

Amelia Flood May 12, 2011, 6:00am


An Indiana man won a $2.56 million Madison County verdict Wednesday night in a suit brought against his former employer, CSX Transportation, over physical and psychological injuries he claims to have suffered when the train he was traveling on in Kentucky hit downed power lines.

Jurors returned the verdict in favor of plaintiff Victor Hawkins at 7:22 p.m.

Hawkins sued CSX for allegedly violating the Federal Employer's Liability Act by failing to warn him and his fellow train crew member about tornadoes and bad weather in the area of the accident and for failing to provide him with a safe work environment.

Hawkins claims he tore his right rotator cuff and that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in relation to the 2005 incident.

CSX argued that Hawkins had a history of problems with his right shoulder.

It also pointed to treatment Hawkins had received for emotional problems related to two fatal accidents involving the train upon which Hawkins was a crew member.

The jury's verdict includes the following amounts:
- $800,000 for pain and suffering
- $775,000 for lost wages and earnings
- $425,000 for emotional distress experienced
- $350,000 for medical expense
- $200,000 for disability
- $10,000 for disfigurement

The trial opened Monday with a day long jury selection.

Jurors were sworn in Tuesday morning and heard testimony including Hawkins' own account of the November 2005 accident.

Wednesday's testimony featured the deposition testimony given by the other train crew member on board the CSX train during the accident.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis presided.

David Jones represented Hawkins. Andrew Lampros of Atlanta, Ga. also represented the plaintiff.

James Bax represented CSX.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-084.

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