Virginia Jury Returns $900,000 Verdict
The plaintiff, age forty-three, was working as a machinist inside defendant’s Shaffer’s Crossing locomotive repair shop on April 17, 2006, when a locomotive horn was inadvertently sounded. According to plaintiff, he sustained acute hearing loss, pain in both ears, and severe headaches. While all of those conditions soon resolved, plaintiff also suffered the immediate onset of tinnitus and hypercausis. Both of those latter conditions proved to be permanent. These conditions caused plaintiff to become anxious and depressed. He sought mental health treatment and was given prescription medication. Plaintiff was unable to return to duty, since he could not be subjected to a noisy environment and could not wear hearing protection, as it only served to increase his perception of the ringing in his head. Plaintiff established that the sounding of the horn was the result of a co-worker placing a spotter cable on top of the locomotive console, right over the switch activating the horn. The cable fell off the console and the horn sounded. Plaintiff established that a history of such horn blasts existed. The defense contested liability only mildly but did vigorously contest damages, arguing that plaintiff failed to mitigate by pursuing other work opportunities. Following a four-day trial, the jury deliberated two hours before returning a verdict in favor of plaintiff for $900,000.
Paul D. Weaver v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., Roanoke City Circuit Court, Virginia, No. CL07-612.
Willard J. Moody, Jr. and Michael R. Davis of THE MOODY LAW FIRM, INC., Portsmouth, VA, attorneys for plaintiff.