Railroad worker's lawsuit sent to jurorsThursday

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Mar 28, 2013

A verdict could be reached as early as Thursday afternoon in a former railroad worker’s case against CSX Transportation at trial in St. Clair County.

Jurors are deciding whether to award damages to machine operator Dennis Hartman who claims he twisted his knee while working at Rose Lake Yard in East St. Louis.

Hartman’s attorney, James Duckworth of Philadelphia, accused CSX of complacency and of leaving safety hazards in their railroad yard.

“A reasonably prudent company does not allow those hazards to exist,” Duckworth said.

“This case is not about arthritis," he told jurors. "That’s not why we’re here. We’re here, because Mr. Hartman tore his ACL and further made that knee worse.

“This is an ongoing, operating railyard, and it’s dangerous."

Defense attorney Charles Swartwout told the jury “the evidence will be the facts.”

“I’m credited with calling Mr. Hartman a liar,” Swartwout said. “The charge against me of calling Mr. Hartman a liar kind of rattled me a little bit.”

Swartwout said that Hartman had “in-stage degenerative arthritis in his knee," and that his chronic osteoarthritis is a condition that can be aggravated.

“Anything could have aggravated his knee,” Swartwout said.

“Now we’ve come full circle. Now he’s saying I don’t know if I stepped on something or not,” Swartwout said.

“I don’t think we did anything wrong here based on all the facts,” Swartwout said.

Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot presides.

Andrew Corkery of Boyle Brasher also represented the defense.

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