A former Union Pacific Railroad Company employee has filed suit against the company, alleging his spinal injuries resulted from his work on the railroad.

James Wright claims he was exposed to repeated and cumulative traumas to his cervical spine, neck, right shoulder and left hand thanks to his work as a hostler and locomotive engineer.

Wright worked for Union Pacific from April 1, 1973, until Jan. 11, and was required to walk on uneven ballast surfaces and operate handbrakes that were poorly maintained, which caused him to develop his degenerative spinal condition, according to the complaint filed Oct. 9 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

As a result, Wright has suffered great pain and disability, mental anguish and extreme nervousness, the suit states.

He also claims he lost income because of his disability caused from the disease.

Union Pacific was negligent because it failed to provide Wright with a safe place to work and safe equipment, required Wright to walk on uneven ballast surfaces, required Wright to spend long hours riding locomotives with seats that were not ergonomically safe, required Wright to operate locomotives on a poorly maintained track, failed to equip its locomotives with ergonomically safe seats and failed to maintain handbrakes, according to the complaint.

In addition, the company negligently required Wright to operate the poorly maintained handbrakes, failed to determine the ergonomic hazards of Wright's job duties, failed to warn Wright of the risks, failed to train Wright on how to avoid risks and allowed unsafe work practices to become routine, the suit states.

Wright claims Union Pacific violated the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act because it failed to provide him with locomotives whose appurtenances were in proper and safe conditions and required him to work on defective locomotives with ergonomically unsafe seats.

In the nine-count suit, Wright is seeking a judgment in excess of $450,000, plus costs.

William P. Gavin of Gavin Law Firm in Belleville will be representing Wright.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 08-L-0504.

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