Directed Verdict for Railroad in FELA Case

Following two days of trial, the District Court of Box Butte County, Nebraska, granted a directed verdict to the railroad in the case Randy Ensign v. BNSF Railway Company.  In the case, the employee carman claimed he was exposed to “cumulative and repetitive trauma” to his shoulders during about 15 years of working in the Alliance, Nebraska car shop and rail yard. He claimed the railroad failed to provide him with reasonably safe tools and equipment, failed to provide him with “ergonomically adequate” tools and equipment, and failed to warn him of the “ergonomically dangerous condition of the workplace.” The carman claimed his torn rotator cuffs were caused or aggravated by his years of employment at the railroad.

At trial, the railroad offered evidence within the plaintiff’s case-in-chief regarding the railroad’s extensive safety programs, training and culture. Co-workers that testified in the plaintiff’s case-in-chief agreed that they were well-trained professionals that received adequate tools and equipment and assistance when needed. Neither the carman nor his co-workers offered any evidence of complaints or reported problems regarding the work environment, the tools or equipment, or the training received.

At the close of plaintiff’s case-in-chief, the railroad moved and was granted a directed verdict in its favor. The plaintiff appealed and the case is pending in the Nebraska Court of Appeals.

Ensign v. BNSF Ry. Co., Case No. A-13-112, 2014 WL 211368 (Neb. Ct . App. Jan. 21, 2014), affirmed on appeal.