Justice Reinstated - Tennessee Supreme Court Reinstates Negligence Finding Against Railroad

Share Article

Shapiro, Appleton & Duffan is proud to announce a decision by the Tennessee Supreme Court reinstating a negligence finding against CSX Railroad in a multi-million dollar wrongful death lawsuit, Payne v. CSX, No. E2012-02392-SC-R11-CV. A jury in Knoxville, Tennessee entered an $8.6 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff in 2010 and the Court held that the negligence findings against the railroad were valid.

The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the original jury determination that CSX was to blame for causing Mr. Payne's cancer.

After five years in the appeal process, a unanimous Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated findings of negligence and federal regulatory violations against CSX that a Knoxville, Tennessee jury originally found on November 30, 2010 in favor of the widow of a CSX switchman, Winston Payne. However, the Supreme Court decision in Payne v. CSX, No. E2012-02392-SC-R11-CV (decision published on July 1, 2015) ordered a new trial solely on the issue of damages. This means that CSX cannot argue that it was not liable for the harm caused to Mr. Payne, but focuses solely on the amount of monetary damages CSX must pay the Estate of Winston Payne.

The original jury determined CSX was responsible for causing Mr. Payne’s lung cancer, and returned an $ 8.6 million verdict. The first trial judge refused to enter the 8.6 million jury verdict, and granted CSX a new trial. Then, a second judge dismissed the entire case. Both decisions were reversed by the Tennessee Supreme Court, which ordered that a new trial be limited to the issue of fair compensation for the four and a half years of suffering that Mr. Payne endured before his death in 2010.

Mr. Payne worked for CSX and its acquired railroads for 41 years. Mr. Payne alleged in his lawsuit (filed in Knoxville Circuit Court, No. 2-231-07) that the railroad exposed him to plutonium and enriched uranium, as well as asbestos and diesel exhaust fumes during his railroad switching activities.

Mr. Payne claimed in his lawsuit (Payne v. CSX, No. 2-231-07) that these carcinogens were a cause of his lung cancer. He underwent 43 chemotherapy rounds and 44 radiation treatments, before the cancer spread through his body. His testimony was videotaped before he passed away, and notably CSX claimed his cigarette smoking was the sole cause of his cancer, although he had quit 15 years before his lung cancer diagnosis.

The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the original jury determination that CSX was to blame for causing Mr. Payne's cancer, rejecting CSX’s position that his cigarette smoking was the sole cause of his cancer.

“On behalf of Anne Payne, we are gratified that the Supreme Court agreed that the jury verdict was proper and valid regarding CSX’s responsibility. We are relieved, since it's been five long years,” said Richard N. Shapiro, one of Payne’s trial lawyers, who, along with Sidney Gilreath of Knoxville, TN, tried the original case. They expect the damages trial to occur in late 2015 or early 2016.

Mr. Shapiro has worked on this case for Mr. Payne and his widow for eight years. His tireless efforts, along with Knoxville attorney Sidney Gilreath, finally resulted in the legal determinations of the original jury verdict being validated by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The TN Supreme court opinion, in Payne v. CSX in case no. E2012-02392-SC-R11-CV is available here.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Richard N. Shapiro
Follow us on
Visit website