FACTS & ALLEGATIONS
Floyd Doe, a 42-year-old train conductor for Union Pacific, was injured on Aug. 8, 1995, while working as a conductor on a Missouri Pacific locomotive in Arkansas. The engineer was a Union Pacific employee. While coming out of a 55-mph curve leading to a gated railroad crossing, the train encountered a truck and low-boy trailer, owned and operated by Mitchener Excavation, which had become stuck on the track. Although the engineer immediately applied the emergency brake, the train struck the tractor-trailer at 56 mph and traveled over 1,900 feet further down the track.
Doe alleged he and the engineer were provided little protection from a collision in the locomotive cab. There were no seat belts nor were they provided any training as to what they should do in the event of an imminent collision. He said he did what his instincts told him to do which was to lay on the floor of the cab prior to impact and try to brace his feet forward on the firewall and his shoulders and back on the rear wall of the cab while holding onto a fixed object.
The driver of the Mitchener Excavation vehicle admitted in his deposition that he had previously become stuck at railroad crossings while driving a Mitchener Excavation tractor and lowboy trailer. He also admitted that immediately before he got hung up on the track, he had a conscious fear prior to attempting to cross the track that he was going to get hung-up again. Nevertheless, he proceeded to try to cross the track. The driver testified that low-boy trailers becoming hung-up on railroad crossings and other roadway structures was not an uncommon event for Mitchener Excavation. Indeed, Mitchener Excavation had developed a trick to raise their low-boy trailers by using some bricks to raise the trailer height. This method was allegedly endorsed and approved by the managerial personnel of Mitchener Excavation.
As a result of the collision, Doe suffered a concussion and a herniated disc at C5-6. He underwent a fusion but has complaints of continuing debilitating neck, shoulder and arm pain, migraine headaches, and memory loss.
Doe claimed wages of over $75,000 a year in today’s dollars at the time of the accident. He claims he will never be able to return to work for the railroad as a conductor, a fact uncontested by the defense and corroborated by Dr. Claire Tribiletti, a neurologist from Tyler, and one of the treating physicians, as well as the engineer who is familiar with the physical requirements of the job.
RESULT: The case settled prior to trial for a confidential amount.
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Rob Ammons is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, in addition to being Board Certified in Civil Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Rob Ammons’ law practice, The Ammons Law Firm, is located in Houston, Texas. The Ammons Law Firm practice is exclusively personal injury law, handling such cases as tire defects, oil rig explosions, truck accidents, plant explosions, refinery accidents, wrongful death, post-collision fires, seat belt defects, airbag defects, SUV rollovers, and workplace negligence.