RRD Partner Bob Hickey Wins Defense Verdict in FELA Case

June 29, 2012

RRD Partner Bob Hickey recently won a defense verdict in the United States District Court on behalf of the main commuter railroad in Connecticut.  The case was brought by a railroad employee pursuant to the Federal Employers Liability Act statute ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. Sec. 51, that allows railroad workers to sue in negligence for on-the-job injuries caused by the negligence of the railroad. 

These cases are very difficult to defend due to a lower standard of proof established by the Supreme Court in FELA cases.  The standard is that any negligence, no matter how slight, is sufficient to prove liability against a railroad.

The plaintiff is a conductor who claimed he was injured when he slipped and fell on an ice-covered passenger platform at 6:30 a.m., the morning after a snow storm.  The plaintiff claimed a serious injury to his foot which ultimately required five surgical procedures.  He missed over 19 months of work and claimed lost wages and benefits that approached $200,000.00.

Attorney Hickey disputed that the railroad had notice of the alleged defect and put on evidence that crews had worked 14 hour shifts the day before the incident in an effort to make the rail stations safe.  He also called a board certified orthopedic surgeon to explain the nature of the injury to the jury and to establish that the plaintiff had a serious pre-existing condition that would have become symptomatic even if the subject incident had not occurred.

After a week long trial, the jury deliberated for approximately 6 hours before rendering a defense verdict.