LARGEST AWARD IN HISTORY OF THE CITY OF PORTSMOUTH’S COURTS
It only took ninety minutes for a Portsmouth Circuit Court jury to award $1.6 million to a railroad brakeman. The decision, ordering the largest sum ever awarded in Portsmouth Circuit Court, resulted from a five-day trial in which Ronald Riggan, 28, of Macon, N.C., was represented by Attorney Willard J. Moody, Sr. to seek recovery from the Seaboard Cost Line Railroad for a work related injury. Riggan was awarded $1 million for loss of income and $600,000 for his injury, all tax free. Court officials were quoted as saying the total amount was more than double the previous, largest amount awarded in the Portsmouth Circuit Court.
Riggan, his family and attorneys were visibly pleased by the jury’s verdict at the end of the trial. Riggan’s supporters embraced each other and congratulated Riggan’s attorney, Willard J. Moody, Sr. Mr. Riggan testified, that he was crossing the end of a boxcar while the train was moving, and the brake wheel came off in his hand. Railroad and safety inspectors testified that the brake wheel was stripped and rusty, and, therefore, in violation of the federal safety regulations.
During the five-day trial, more than a dozen witnesses testified, with the most emotional testimony coming from Riggan himself. He testified for almost three hours, and burst into tears during cross-examination. Scores of photographs showing Riggan’s legs shortly after surgery and scenes of the accident were introduced as evidence.