The plaintiff, a locomotive engineer, was turning out a main reservoir cutout valve underneath the locomotive steps when he injured his back by pulling on the valve to get it closed. The plaintiff alleged the valve was placed on the pipe backwards and had not been properly serviced and maintained because it was extremely hard to turn. The plaintiff sustained a ruptured disc at L5-S1, which required discectomy and fusion of his lower back, and was disabled from his duties as an engineer.
The railroad’s defense counsel claimed the plaintiff suffered from chronic pain disorder which caused him to unnecessarily go through several surgical procedures to cure his low back pain and leg pain. The defense also alleged the plaintiff had a poor work record and was a low wage earner among other locomotive engineers.
His total annual loss as an engineer was approximately $65,000 per year. He could not return to work as an engineer. The jury awarded $770,000.
Attorneys for the plaintiff were Willard J. Moody, Jr. and Willard J. Moody, Sr., of Moody, Strople & Kloeppel, Ltd. in Portsmouth VA.