Railroad worker cites FELA for fall on train

Marilyn Tennissen May 29, 2007, 9:00am

Sara Youngdahl

A trip to the bathroom landed a railroad worker on his back and the railroad company in court.

Terry Adams filed a personal injury suit under the Federal Employers' Liability Act against BNSF Railway Company on May 25 in Jefferson County district court. FELA designed for workers to recover damages for personal injuries sustained while employed by defendants engaged in interstate commerce.

On Nov. 18, 2006, Adams was employed with BNSF Railway Company and was injured while descending the steps of a locomotive. As the plaintiff walked down the steps to the lavatory, he stepped on debris, which caused him to fall and strike his back causing injury to his back, neck and other parts of his body.

According to the plaintiff's original petition, the injuries were due to negligence of the defendant by failing to provide a reasonably safe place to work.

The railway is also in violation of the Federal Locomotive Safety Statute, the plaintiff argues, because the locomotive in question was not in proper condition and safe to operate without unnecessary danger of personal injury.

In addition, a Federal Railroad Administration Regulation requires that all systems on a locomotive be "free of conditions that endanger the safety of crew, locomotive or train."

Another FRA regulation requires that "floors of locomotive cabs, passageways and compartments shall be kept free from oil, water, waste or any obstruction that creates slipping, tripping or fire hazard." Therefore, the floor and/or steps on the locomotive were in violation of that regulation, the suit says.

Because of the incident, "plaintiff has suffered great physical and mental pain, suffering and anguish and will continue in all probability to suffer for a long time into the future, if not for the balance of his natural life." He has also lost wages, earning capacity and will be in need of medical care in the future.

He is requesting a trial by jury and is represented by Sara Youngdahl and Clint McGuire of Youngdahl Law Firm in Friendswood.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd in the 172nd District Court.

Case No. E179-372

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