Union Pacific settles with employee for $4.5 million

Missouri Lawyers Weekly

By Will Connaghan

A $4.5 million settlement has been reached in the case of a Union Pacific railroad employee who suffered severe injuries, including an above-the-knee amputation of his leg, when he became trapped beneath the wheel of a locomotive and dragged for 20 feet or more.

According to Missouri Lawyer Weekly records, the settlement would be among the 10 highest this year.

Railroad conductor Wayne Transmeier, 57, had multiple surgeries, skin grafts and must now wear a prosthetic device. The plaintiff claimed Union Pacific had a defective locomotive and coupler and operated it too fast and failed to keep a look out for the conductor, Transmeier, who was acting as a flagman when the accident occurred.

The accident took place on Feb. 27, in the Muncie, Kan., yard of Union Pacific Railroad. The lawsuit was filed in St. Louis County Circuit by Jerome Schlichter and Nelson Wolff of the Schlichter Bogard & Denton law firm. The case was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court because the Missouri registration agent for Union Pacific Railroad is in St. Louis County and also because Transmeier received medical treatment there, according to Schlichter.

Wayne Transmeier v. Union Pacific Railroad

Type of action: Federal Employer's Liability Act
Injuries: Partial amputation, crushing injuries, bruising, straining and scarring of he bones, soft tissues, ligaments, tendons, muscles, blood vessels and nerves.
Court/Case No./Date: St. Louis County Circuit Court/07CC-002084/Nov. 31, 2007
Judge, Jury or ADR: N/A
Judge: Barabara Wallace
Last Demand: $4.5 million settlement
Special Damages: Approximately $300,000
Allocation of Fault: N/A
Last Demand: N/A
Attorney for Plaintiff: Jerome J. Schlichter and Nelson Wolff, Schlichter Bogard & Denton, St. Louis, MO
Insurance Carrier: N/A
Plaintiff's Experts: N/A
Defendant's Experts: N/A
Attorney for Defendant: David A. Dick, Thompson & Coburn, St. Louis

Schlichter said the two parties reached a settlement before the case was placed on a docket. He noted the relatively short amount of time between the accident and the settlement.

"That was rather fast," Schlichter said.

Schlichter said Union Pacific claimed Transmeier was at fault for not ordering the train to stop. He said his client was a very experienced railroad employee and had an exceptional safety record.

"He had over 30 years of service to the railroad," Schlichter said.

Transmeier earned $100,000 a year as a conductor for Union Pacific, according to Schlichter. Included in the Nov. 30 settlement was $300,000 in special damages to cover his lost wages for the three years he had left until retirement, Schlichter said.

The attorney for Union Pacific, David Dick of Thompson Coburn, declined to comment on the case.