A Norfolk Southern Railway Company employee says he will have to undergo multiple surgeries because of work he performed for the company.

Larry Runnels filed a lawsuit May 22 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against the railroad.

Runnels says he has worked as a thermite welder for the railroad since July 1975.

During that time, the railroad provided Runnels machinery that required extensive use of his neck, spine, shoulder, elbows and fingers, sometimes in awkward positions, the complaint says.

Because of the equipment with which he was forced to work, Runnels sustained injuries to his neck, spine, shoulders, elbows and fingers that resulted in surgeries and endured severe pain and suffering, according to the complaint. He also incurred medical costs, suffered psychological and emotional injury, mental anguish and anxiety and lost wages and benefits, the suit states. All of his symptoms are likely to continue in the future, according to court records.

Runnels claims Norfolk Southern was negligent in many aspects, including by failing to provide a safe place to work, by failing to provide safe conditions, safe equipment and safe methods for work, by failing to take any effective action to reduce the cumulative strain on Runnels, by failing to warn him of the risks associated with his job and by requiring Runnels to be exposed to dangerous levels of cumulative trauma.

Runnels is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000, plus costs.
Roger C. Denton of Schlicter, Bogard and Denton in St. Louis will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-269.

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