Injured workers name railroads in new suits

By Steve Gonzalez | Dec 21, 2004

A century after railroads industrialized America's nooks and crannies, the industry is frequently discovering territory in court.

Two railroad companies were tagged with lawsuits last week in Madison County Circuit Court under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

Alan E. Effan, represented by David Jones of Pratt & Tobin of East Alton, filed suit Dec. 20 against Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis alleging that he was injured on Oct. 31, 2003, while working as a machinist mechanic. He is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000 and for all costs of the suit.

Effan claims that while working near Madison County he was severely and permanently injured while either welding a backhoe bucket unassisted or a crane to hoist bucket.

Terminal Railroad's "carelessness and negligence" is to blame, Effan asserts, because it failed to provide safe and suitable tools and lifting equipment. The railroad also failed to provide him with sufficient manpower and a safe place and methods to work.

As a result, Effan claims he sustained injuries to his neck and shoulders, resulting in disability and disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of earnings past and future, and medical bills.

His case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

Richard Taylor also filed a FELA suit last week against Norfolk Southern Railway.

Taylor, also represented by Jones, alleges that while employed as a maintenance worker, he suffered hearing loss and other medical problems.

Taylor alleges that Norfolk was in violation of the Federal Employers’ Liability Act because it failed to:

  • Measure noise levels to which he was exposed at work in a timely fashion;

  • Implement timely and adequate administrative or engineering controls to protect his ears and hearing;

  • Provide safe and suitable equipment;

  • Provide adequate hearing protection;

  • Warn him that over the years of his employment he was being subjected to a noise level that would cause gradual, insidious, permanent damage, including hearing loss; and

  • Have in place company medical and safety regulations concerning noise pollution, or, in the alternative, failed to enforce the company’s existing medical and safety regulations concerning noise pollution.

    Taylor also claims that Norfolk failed to adhere to and enforce federal laws and regulations concerning noise pollution and also failed to provide him a safe place to work.

    Taylor is seeking at least $50,000 in damages for his alleged permanent physical disability and past and future psychological disabilities due to his injuries, as well as past and future mental pain and suffering.

    Judge Philip Kardis in Granite City has been assigned to Taylor’s case.

    The Federal Employers Liability Act was passed by the United States Congress to protect and compensate railroaders injured on the job.
    Unlike state worker's compensation law, FELA requires the injured railroader to prove that the railroad was "legally negligent," at least in part, in causing the injury.
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