Plaintiff asks for new trial in railroad slip and fall

By Amelia Flood | Nov 13, 2009

The plaintiff in a trip and fall case decided in late August is asking Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth for a new trial.

Plaintiff Phillip Roberts, a former Union-Pacific Railroad Company trackman, argues that the jury in his suit against his former employer failed to properly award him damages for disfigurement caused by the accident and for his lost wages.

Ruth is slated to hear the motion and Union Pacific's response Nov. 20 at 9 a.m.

Phillip Roberts tripped on a length of wire along the company's railroad tracks in Wood River.

He sustained a lower back injury that required surgery. Union Pacific alleged that Roberts had been warned of the trip hazard and contributed to his own accident.

After a trial that featured power outages and a juror's collapse, the jury awarded Roberts $250,000 out of $500,000. The jury found Roberts was 50 percent responsible for the incident.

As part of its verdict, the jury awarded Roberts $125,000 for his lost wages despite plaintiff's expert's testimony that the number exceeded $700,000.

The jury did not award damages for disfigurement, the main error Roberts cites in his plea for a new trial.

He also argues that economic damages are too low.

Barring a new trial, Roberts' Nov. 6 motion asks for a new trial on the damages issue alone.

The defense had moved in late September for a new trial but missed the filing date set by the statute by one day.

Roberts is represented by Daniel Francis of St. Louis. Union Pacific is represented by Thomas Jones and Harlan Harla of Belleville.
The suit's trial ended Aug. 24.

The case had originally been assigned to former Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

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

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