St. Louis City Circuit Court Jury Awards Railroad Engineer $2.975M

St. Louis Daily Record & St. Louis Countian

by Erin Suess

A St. Louis City Circuit Court jury recently awarded a Missouri resident $2.975 million against a trucking company, whose truck caused an accident that injured him and ended his career.

Charles Payne, a 59-year-old resident of Ellsinor, Mo., worked as a railroad engineer for Union Pacific Railroad for more than 30 years. On Aug. 18, 2000, he was operating a train when a Cornhusker Truck Line semi-truck failed to stop at a railroad crossing in northern Arkansas crashing into the train as it was coming out of Poplar Bluff, Mo.

The truck driver was killed, and Payne suffered from several injuries, including a ruptured disc in his back, leg pain and numbness in his leg. Payne also underwent multiple surgeries. As a result of these injuries, Payne was unable to return to his work as a locomotive engineer.

Payne sued the Omaha-based company, arguing that the driver failed to yield the right of way to the train. He alleged he suffered from continuing physical and mental injuries.

We alleged that he [the Cornhusker Truck Line driver] should have stopped and did not, explained Jerry Schlichter of Schlichter Bogard & Denton, who represented Payne. The defendant [Cornhusker Truck Line] alleged the engineer should have gone into emergency braking before the crossing, that it was his [Payne's] fault the accident occurred.

On Feb. 20, the jury found in favor of Payne and against Cornhusker, awarding Payne $2.975 million.

I believe, on the surface, with his age and years left until retirement, [Cornhusker] certainly did not see this as a case that had this kind of value, but we always felt that it did because it was a combination of both physical injuries and emotional and psychological problems, added Schlichter. Clearly the jury believed that this has an enormous impact on his life.

Judge Thomas Grady of the St. Louis City Circuit Court tried the case, and Roger Denton and Paul Slocomb co-represented Payne. Attempts to reach Cornhusker's attorney, James Gottschalk, were unsuccessful.

Copyright 2004 Dolan Media Newswires