Railroad Employee's Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Calls into Question Safety Practices of BNSF Railway Company

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From Eight & Sand Law: Federal judge denies effort by railroad company to dismiss case

A clear public policy exists in protecting human life from imminent danger.

A federal judge in Tacoma, Washington has denied a motion by BNSF Railway Company to dismiss the lawsuit brought by former locomotive engineer James T. Norvell, who alleges he was wrongfully terminated by the company.

Mr. Norvell alleges in his federal complaint that he was forced to take emergency action to prevent a catastrophe when the train he was operating failed to respond to his efforts to stop it in a BNSF rail yard in Portland, Oregon in 2015. The complaint states that the rail yard was surrounded by storage tanks of hazardous materials and that, were he not able to stop, Mr. Norvell's train likely would have collided with a another train carrying hazardous materials - all of which could have caused great harm to co-workers and the general public. He further alleges that when he reported the issue to management, along with his discovery that the locomotive, and several others, were known to have safety defects that the company had repeatedly failed to address, he was fired.

In his order issued January 2, 2018, District Judge Benjamin H. Settle found that Mr. Norvell’s lawsuit sufficiently alleged that he was fired in violation of Washington’s wrongful termination law because, among other things, “it is easily recognized that a clear public policy exists in protecting human life from imminent danger.”

The lawsuit, Norvell v. BNSF Railway Company, 3:17-cv-05683-BHS, was filed in the Western District of Washington on August 29, 2017. Mr. Norvell is represented by attorneys Jeff Dingwall of Eight & Sand and Elizabeth Quick of the Quick Law Group, PLLC.

Jeff Dingwall of Eight & Sand is nationally recognized for his work representing those injured and killed by railroads. Elizabeth Quick of Quick Law Group, PLLC specializes in catastrophic injuries throughout the greater Seattle area.

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Jeff Dingwall
Eight & Sand
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