St. Louis Jury Returns $1.427 Million Verdict Against Union Pacific

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The Lakin Law Firm won a $1.427 million verdict for a former Union Pacific trainman who can no longer work due to osteoarthritis of the hips caused by years of wear-and-tear from poor conditions at Union Pacific's Kansas City area rail yards.

In addition to using the wrong ballast, witnesses testified to the poor ground conditions in the rail yard, especially trip and slip hazards, such as standing water, spilled grain and debris. After so many years of working in these conditions, Mr. Heverly developed a chronic condition so painful he could no longer work.

The Lakin Law Firm won a $1.427 million verdict for a former Union Pacific trainman who can no longer work due to osteoarthritis of the hips caused by years of wear-and-tear from poor conditions at Union Pacific's Kansas City area rail yards (Heverly v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri, No. 052-001579).

The jury verdict came against Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) on behalf of Jim Heverly, a 51-year-old brakeman who worked for UP from 1978 to 2002 when he had to quit working due to osteoarthritis.

Mr. Heverly was represented at trial by Lakin Law Firm attorneys Charles Armbruster and Michael Blotevogel. Armbruster said, "Mr. Heverly's physician and another expert witness testified that decades of medical literature supported the finding that Mr. Heverly's osteoarthritis was caused by conditions at UP's rail yards. UP's own specifications, as well as industry standards, recommend the use of smaller "yard ballast" (1 ¼" in size or less) to cover walkways in rail yards to provide a safe walking surface for rail workers. Instead, UP used a larger, coarser "mainline ballast" that creates a surface that witnesses testified is extremely difficult to walk on, causing workers ankle, knee and hip pain after a full day of walking on it."

Armbruster also noted that "In addition to using the wrong ballast, witnesses testified to the poor ground conditions in the rail yard, especially trip and slip hazards, such as standing water, spilled grain and debris. After so many years of working in these conditions, Mr. Heverly developed a chronic condition so painful he could no longer work."

This was the second time Mr. Heverly's case was tried to a verdict. In 2007, Mr. Heverly was represented by another firm, and the jury returned a defense verdict. At the request of Mr. Heverly, the Lakin Law Firm entered its appearance, and Mr. Blotevogel successfully convinced the trial judge to grant Mr. Heverly a new trial. On retrial, Mr. Armbruster and Mr. Blotevogel successfully won a verdict in Mr. Heverly's favor.

The Lakin Law Firm has a long history of aggressively defending the rights of injured railroad workers and their families across the country. This verdict represents a string of successive victories for railroad workers by the Lakin Law Firm going back more than a decade. More information can be found at http://www.lakinlaw.com.

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Brad Lakin

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