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Stephen J. Heine, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, Peoria, IL, recently received a defense verdict in an FELA case in Illinois state court. The plaintiff was working as a machine operator with a welder, tasked with moving 20 to 30 pieces of rail from one side of a railroad track to the other. Plaintiff claimed that while he was looking backwards and moving over the tracks, he felt his neck “pop”. He had a two level discectomy and fusion.

He contended another employee should have been available to help unhook the chain from the rail, that he was rushed because of track time, that a different machine should have been used such as an on-track crane or on-track machine with a flat car, and that he should have been instructed to "step" the rail rather than drag it.


Steve’s defense demonstrated to the jury that the work Plaintiff was doing using this equipment was safe and did not cause his injury and called as part of the defense a Caterpillar employee to testify about the equipment and refute Plaintiff’s contention that using this piece of equipment for the assigned task was unsafe.  A retired railroad employee expert, as well as a maintenance supervisor from another railroad, testified that the work Plaintiff was doing was safe and that the chosen equipment (a frontend loader) was appropriate for the work conditions. In addition, Steve used a biomechanical engineer to refute the mechanism of claimed injury.


Second Case

Stephen J. Heine, Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, Peoria, IL, obtained affirmance of a summary judgment on behalf of his railroad client for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Court affirmed the exclusion of the testimony of Plaintiff’s expert pursuant to FRE 702 and 703, finding that methods employed by the expert were unreliable. The Court affirmed exclusion of the expert’s testimony regarding differential etiology because he failed, pursuant to Daubert and Kuhmo Tire, to follow any reliable methodology in making a determination regarding causation.

Do you have a triumph to share? Send a brief summary and a recent photograph to David Fuqua at dfuqua@fc-lawyers.com


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