Norfolk Southern seeks to transfer engineer’s case of faulty hand brake; Says plaintiff is forum shopping in St. Clair County

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 28, 2013

Norfolk Southern seeks to transfer a train engineer’s personal injury lawsuit to Macon County.

According to the complaint filed on May 30, plaintiff Michael Boaz claims he was working as a locomotive engineer when he attempted to release a hand brake in Norfolk Southern’s Madison yard on March 9. When he went to pull on the brake, he alleges the brake was not in working order, causing him to suffer an injury.

In his suit, Boaz blames Norfolk Southern for causing his injuries, saying it violated the Locomotive Inspection Act by allowing a malfunctioning train hand brake to be used on its train and by failing to provide proper components on a locomotive that endangered the safety of the crew.

Norfolk Southern filed a motion to transfer on Sept. 13 through attorneys Kurt E. Reitz and Misty L. Edwards of Belleville.

“Plaintiff filed this action in St. Clair County, Illinois, despite the fact that plaintiff does not live here, his alleged injury did not occur here, his medical treatment did not occur here and no known fact witnesses are located here,” the motion states. “Rather, the majority of relevant contacts and interests in this case are located in and around Macon County, where plaintiff lives.”

It argues that the injury occurred in Madison County, but the plaintiff road home to Macon County where he reported the incident.

In a memorandum of law filed Sept. 13, Norfolk Southern argues that the case should be transferred based on forum non conveniens.

The defendant blames the plaintiff of partaking in “’forum shopping to suit his individual interests.’”

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot scheduled a status conference for Dec. 9 at 9 a.m.

John P. Kujawski of Kujawski Marcus in O’Fallon is representing Boaz.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-271

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