Defense Verdict for Railroad in FELA Case

Following a three-day trial, a jury in the District Court for Box Butte County, Nebraska, returned a verdict in favor of the railroad, represented by Tyler Spahn and Andrew Weeks, on an employee’s claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Plaintiff claimed he injured his knee when he fell in snowy conditions while walking from his work location to his vehicle in the parking lot. After the incident, he underwent a knee replacement and then returned to work for the railroad.

Plaintiff claimed the railroad failed to take proper measures for winter weather conditions and to address other alleged safety hazards with the route he chose to the parking lot. The evidence showed, however, that plaintiff had an indoor alternative route, which was free from winter weather conditions, and that the alleged hazards he complained of did not play a role in his accident. Medical evidence presented by the railroad also established that he had a pre-existing history of knee complaints going back decades and was told by his doctors that he was a candidate for a knee replacement years before the accident. The railroad demonstrated that he chose the route he took over the indoor alternative solely for convenience and that he did not consider the weather conditions or his pre-existing knee issues.

Ultimately, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the railroad, finding that the plaintiff did not meet his burden of proof.

Moeller v. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Corp., Case No. CI 17-13 (Neb. Dist. Ct. Jan. 17, 2019).