Jury Awards $3 Million to Injured Railroad Worker

St. Louis Daily Record
Vol.294, No.77

BY ERIN SUESS

A St. Louis City Circuit Court jury awarded $3 million to a 31 year-old injured railroad worker who was hit in the head with a sign, causing him recurring severe headaches.

"He's pleased that he was vindicated since he was attacked as a fraud, as making this all up, but he's still sobered by facing a lifetime of severe headaches and depression," said the worker's attorney, Jerry Schlichter.

The injury was caused when a 5-pound metal sign hit Greg Haskin on the head as he was climbing into a railroad car at Union Pacific Railroad's Armordale Yard on March 5, 2001. The sign had come loose three weeks prior to the accident and had not yet been pinned down. The accident left Haskin dazed but not unconscious, and he ended up with a 1-inch laceration on his head.

"There were no objective findings at all, either CAT scans or MRIs or any objective findings, but we presented evidence of intractable headaches he's had ever since, including 11 doctors treating him, trying every kind of narcotic medication, biofeedback, nerve blocks and then, as a last resort, a frying or burning of an occipital nerve in the back of his head to try to eliminate pain, all to no avail," explained Schlichter of the resulting trauma.

According to Schlichter, Union Pacific took the position that it was a minor scalp laceration and that it would be willing to pay Haskin "only some token money."

"This is the first case of any kind that I've had in my career in which there was no offer going into the trial, no offer or response to the settlement demand," said Schlichter. "We tried the case in Judge [Dennis M.] Schaumann's court, and the jury came back with a verdict of $3 million after a week and a half. We felt that justice prevailed."

As a result of the various pain medications Haskin was prescribed, he now must take methadone to ease the longterm side effects of other narcotic medications. He is currently under the care of a neurologist, a pain-management center in his hometown of Kansas City and a psychiatrist to treat the depression that came with the end of his railroad career as a conductor. Haskin was a third-generation railroad worker and a local chairman for the United Transportation Union.

Union Pacific attorneys did not return calls seeking comment. Haskin was also represented by attorney Nelson Wolff.