Trial opens in Wood River railroad accident suit

By Amelia Flood | Aug 18, 2009


An injury trial of railroad employee Phillip Roberts opened Monday in Madison County with jury selection.

Roberts, formerly employed by Union Pacific Railroad, is seeking $1 million in damages and costs over a tripping incident in 2007.

Union Pacific filed two motions in limine Aug. 13 to bar testimony about efforts it may have made to fix the abandoned wire that caused Roberts' injuries and disciplinary actions it under took after the accident against Roberts.

The voir dire continued into the afternoon.

It is set to resume Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth is presiding.

Roberts claims he tripped over a telephone wire that belonged to his employer. According to his complaint, Roberts had been inspecting track at the Wood River site as part of his job.

The suit claims that the railroad failed to clear vegetation from the site as required by law, failed to provide him with a safe work environment and failed to help him sufficiently. Roberts also claims he was not provided with a reasonable pathway while working at the site.

Roberts claims he injured his back and legs in the fall, has suffered emotional distress including depression and that he has and will lose wages.

He is suing the company under the Federal Employee Liability Act.

Union Pacific contends that Roberts failed to mitigate his damages, that he contributed to the accident and that his problems stem from a pre-existing condition.

The case was originally assigned to then-Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

Roberts is represented by Daniel Francis of St. Louis.

Union Pacific is represented by Thomas Jones of Belleville.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-906.

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