Injured Ex-U.P. Engineer Awarded $1.9 Million

Omaha World-Herald

A $1.9 million judgment has been handed down by a Scotts Bluff County District Court jury for a former Union Pacific engineer who was injured on the job.

The jury deliberated more than five hours Tuesday before returning its verdict for Wayne Wagner of Douglas, Wyo.

Wagner filed suit after slipping on ice and snow on a locomotive walkway while switching engines near Bill, Wyo., on March 1, 1998.

Wagner, who is permanently disabled after injuring his back, arms, legs, neck and shoulders, sued for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

District Judge Randy Lippstreu had ruled earlier this year that Union Pacific was liable for damages for not providing a safe work environment by failing to inspect and maintain the walkway.

The jury was charged with deciding monetary damages.

Scotts Bluff attorney Steve Olsen, who along with his brother Howard, represented the railroad, called the amount of the judgment "surprising and disappointing."

He said he thought any damages for future earning capacity would be mitigated because the railroad had offered Wagner to return to his job within his physical restrictions. Olsen said Wagner turned down the offer.

Wagner's attorney, Roger Denton of Schlichter Bogard & Denton, was not immediately available for comment.

Even though the accident happened in Wyoming, the law allows such cases to be filed in any court where the railroad has track.