Railroad Worker Injured Back Operating Endloader

Missouri Lawyers Weekly

A Norfolk Southern Railway employee who suffered a back injury filed a Federal Employer Liability Act case.

In November 2001 Rick Beldon was operating a front endloader in Elkhart, Ind. He was instructed to bang the endloader into a track panel in order to move the panel.

In the process Beldon injured his low back. The injury required fusion surgery, which he said made him totally disabled and ended his 25-year railroad career.

Beldon claimed that the "battering ram" technique he was told to use was an unsafe method of work.

Norfolk Southern contended that the method was safe and that the forces of the incident were not sufficient to cause Beldon's injury. In addition, the railroad argued that Beldon was not hurt since he failed to report the injury immediately. And to the extent Beldon was injured, Norfolk Southern said, he failed to mitigate his damages by not seeking vocational rehabilitation services. After a five-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $1.1 million.