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Court combines worker injury lawsuits against railroad companies

A former railroad mechanic and machinist from New York has become the lead plaintiff in a case against CSX Transportation, Inc. and Consolidated Rail Corporation. The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas chose to combine two separate lawsuits from railroad workers alleging that unsafe work environments at the companies caused their workplace injuries.

The lead plaintiff over the course of his career worked at both companies. He said that his duties forced him into awkward positions and required frequent heavy lifting. His musculoskeletal injuries affect his shoulders, cervical spine and lumbar spine. His legal complaint details problems such as inadequate supervision, lack of manpower and insufficient tools.

Defense teams for the railroad companies had tried unsuccessfully to convince the court to dismiss the cases. The companies said that the plaintiffs' complaints had been made at an improper venue and violated the Federal Railway Safety Act's doctrine of preclusion. The employers argued that the workers had not made proper claims under the terms of the Federal Employers Liability Act. Within the consolidated case, the workers want damages awarded jointly and severally.

People who work for railroads do not have access to workers compensation like most other employees. When a railroad employee is injured on the job, the representation of an attorney familiar with FELA claims may allow someone to address an unsafe work environment. Railroad companies are only liable for worker injuries when company negligence contributes to the problem, so an attorney may strive to document the problems that caused the harm. Employers typically try to shift blame onto workers, but an attorney might be able to counteract this effort and gain a settlement.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Philly court consolidates FELA actions by former rail workers against Conrail, CSX", Nicholas Malfitano, April 10, 2018

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