Appellate Court News: Union Pacific suit back in court

By Jeff Gelber | Sep 30, 2004

Illinois' 5th Appellate Court has reversed a St. Clair County Circuit Court decision to throw out a railroad worker's lawsuit charging his employer was responsible for his back injuries.

Bradley A. Hahn sued Union Pacific Railroad, charging it failed to provide him with a 'reasonably safe place in which to work.'

In 1994, Hahn fell 15 feet onto frozen ground while working for Union Pacific. He had spinal surgery and settled a claim with the company. Hahn later signed an agreement releasing Union Pacific from all liability related to his injury.

Three years later, while still working for Union Pacific as a crane operator, Hahn claims he hurt his back three more times doing assigned work tasks, including using a snowblower, operating a backhoe, and opening railcar doors.

In sworn testimony, doctors differed as to whether there was any direct connection between Hahn's injury and the tasks.

Union Pacific argued that the company was not negligent and that there is no evidence proving Hahn's injury was the result of the incidents he described in his complaint.

St. Clair County Circuit Court granted Union Pacific's pretrial motion for summary judgment. Hahn appealed.

Judges grant summary judgment when they determine that there is 'no genuine issue as to any material fact.'

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