A Philadelphia jury awarded $2.2 million to a man who was working as a freight conductor for CSX, Inc. when he was injured as a consequence of a malfunctioning hand brake.
Mark W. Tanner and Peter M. Newman represented Kevin Glover, who was injured on July 15, 2004, while working for CSX. At the time, Mr. Glover had attempted to release a sticking hand brake on a flat car of the freight train, when the lever moved suddenly and unexpectedly causing him to fall from the ladder approximately four feet. Mr. Glover sustained a 1″ laceration to his head, and what were thought to be soft tissue neck and back injuries. Over time, Mr. Glover’s back and neck injuries failed to improve and, in fact, deteriorated. Subsequent neurological testing determined that Mr. Glover had both cervical and lumbar radiculopathy (nerve damage) and, as a consequence of his condition, he would be permanently disabled from his employment.
Plaintiffs proceeded to trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas before the Honorable Esther Sylvester and a jury. At trial, Glover’s counsel exclusively pursued the claim against CSX for what Mr. Glover contended was its violation of the Federal Safety Appliance Act, in that the hand brake on the train failed to function properly. CSX responded that:
There was no malfunction of the hand brake; Glover violated CSX’s employee rules at the time he was attempting to utilize the hand brake, thereby causing his own injuries; and Glover’s injuries were not as severe as he contended, and he was capable of returning to work. Plaintiffs presented testimony by way of videotape of four of Glover’s treating physicians, including Jimmie Sanders, M.D. (primary care), Michael M. Cohen, M.D. (neurology), Mark Avart, D.O. (orthopedic surgeon), and Shailen Jalali, M.D. (pain management), concerning the extent of Glover’s injuries. Plaintiffs also presented expert testimony from railroad safety expert, Richard C. Beall, as well as testimony from Glover’s treating psychologist, Allan Cooperstein, Ph.D., and an actuary, David Hopkins. The defense presented testimony from several of Glover’s supervisors, as well as from their railroad safety expert, Gary Wolf. Additionally, the defense presented medical testimony from Mario Arena, M.D. (orthopedic surgeon), and Wilhelmina Korevaar, M.D. (pain management).
The highest offer from the defense prior to the verdict was $175,000. After three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in the amount of $2.2 million.
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