KCS employee sues railroad for two different back injuries

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Apr 29, 2009

MARSHALL � While working as a relief signal maintainer for Kansas City Southern Railroad, a Louisiana man claims the company failed to provide a reasonably safe place to work which caused him to injure his back twice.

The first injury allegedly occurred while John Rutledge was working on the base of a crossing gate arm. He was adjusting the counter-weights when he claims he sustained a serious disabling injury to his neck and upper back.

The second injury allegedly occurred in 2007 while Rutledge was inspecting the track. Rutledge's truck derailed, slid down an embankment and hit some trees. Rutledge states the incident caused injuries to his lower back.

Under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, Rutledge filed suit against KCS on April 24 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Alleging the gate arm and surrounding area was unsafe, the plaintiff argues KCS "failed to use a procedure wherein the weights were adjusted without an excessive amount of lifting, pushing and pulling."

The suit states the defendant improperly installed the base of the gate arm too close to the proximity of the guardrail causing an obstruction to the work performed.

Rutledge accuses Kansas City of allowing excessive height of the weights on the gate arm causing an "excessive amount of stress and strain on Plaintiff's back as he worked to adjust the weights."

The plaintiff argues the railroad is negligent for failing to provide a safe place to work, failing to provide safe and proper tools and equipment and failing to properly supervise.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges the truck the plaintiff was in was defective due to the "slack or side movement in the hi-rail arms on the truck," unsafe due to tire pressure and an improper track gauge.

Rutledge is seeking damages for medical treatment, physical pain and suffering, mental and emotional pain and suffering, medical bills, lost benefits and lost wages, loss of earning capacity, permanent disability, physical impairment and disfigurement.

Houston attorney Robert Tramuto of the law firm Jones, Granger, Tramuto, Christy and Halstead is representing the plaintiff.

The plaintiff is requesting trial by jury.

U. S. District Judge T. John Ward is presiding over the litigation.
Case No 2:09cv122

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