The plaintiff was performing an initial terminal brake test when he detected an air leak, requiring him to cross through the train. Plaintiff walked to the nearest flat car to use its brake step to cross over. The brake step gave way due to a broken support bracket. Plaintiff fell more than four feet to ties and ballast below. A mechanical inspection report prepared by the railroad later indicated a “100% old break” in the support bracket.
Plaintiff sought to recover under FELA and the SAA. Discovery revealed that the defendant has been in charge of the car from which plaintiff fell for approximately two weeks after accepting it at the interchange, and the car had been placed in four different trains. Defense counsel for the railroad argued that plaintiff’s own failure to inspect the brake step as the sole cause of injury. Plaintiff’s orthopedic physician testified the plaintiff’s arthritis would most likely cause him to leave railroad service “within ten years.”
At the conclusion of a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff for $630,000. Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Michael R. Davis and Willard J. Moody, Jr. of Moody, Strople, Kloeppel & Higginbotham, Inc.
Kevin T. King v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.