Ruth orders new trial on damages in Wood River railroad trip case

By Amelia Flood | Dec 7, 2009


A new trial on damages involving a railroad worker's trip along tracks will be held in Madison County.

Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth entered an order Dec. 2 ordering a new trial due to arguments by both plaintiff Phillip C. Roberts and defendant Union Pacific Railroad Company that the jury awarded damages contrary to the evidence presented in the case.

A status conference to determine the damages trial date is set for Jan. 27, 2010 at 9 a.m.

A jury awarded Roberts $250,000 out of a $500,000 verdict in late August. The jury found that although Union Pacific was liable for Roberts' lower back injuries, Roberts contributed to his tripping accident.

In the order, Ruth denies the defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

The judge notes that both parties moved for new trials based on the damages question.

"The jury clearly awarded an amount for medical bills that is not supported by the evidence," Ruth's order reads. "The amount also mirrored the jury's award for the other elements of damages. The jury's award is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence."

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

The trial ended Aug. 24, 2009.

Roberts is represented by Daniel Francis of St. Louis. Union Pacific is represented by Thomas Jones and Harlan Harla of Belleville.

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

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