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Philadelphia juries awarded sizable verdicts last week in two unrelated railroad injury actions. In Callahan v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., a $4.5 million verdict was handed up Wednesday in a Federal Employers’ Liability Act lawsuit brought by an Amtrak power line maintenance worker who broke both ankles after a roughly 40-foot fall allegedly caused by a rung gap on a utility pole located along a section of track in Port Richmond. But the jurors in that case concluded Henry Callahan, 32 at the time of the accident, was 30 percent negligent with respect to the accident, leaving the father-of-one with a $3.15 million net recovery. On Thursday, the jury in Glover v. CSX Transportation Inc. awarded $2.2 million to a conductor who claimed he suffered a permanent neck injury when he fell off a stopped flat car while trying to pull the lever on a stuck brake. The case was tried under the Federal Safety Appliance Act. Callahan was represented at trial by Robert Goggin III and James Duckworth of Keller & Goggin in Philadelphia. Amtrak was defended by Mark Landman of Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford in New York. According to court papers, Callahan’s accident occurred in April 2004. He had been working for Amtrak for just more than five years at the time. Forty feet up the power line pole in question there was a gap in the pole’s rung system that had been filled in by a bolt, according to court papers. The defense contended that an experienced linesman like Callahan would have been familiar with such a configuration on an Amtrak power line pole. According to court papers, Callahan went up the pole, completed some work at the top of it, and fell as he was coming down, apparently losing his footing due to the gap in the rungs. The defense argued that Callahan had failed to maintain three-point contact with the pole when he lowered his leg onto the missing-rung section of the pole. According to Goggin, Callahan conceded at trial that he had lost three-points of contact with the ladder while descending past the rungless patch of the pole. Goggin also said that Amtrak’s highest offer had been for $1 million, while the highest demand was for $3 million. Landman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment. The trial began Jan. 12 before Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Joseph I. Papalini and ended this past Wednesday, according to Goggin. The eight-member jury deliberated for roughly six hours before reaching its decision, he said. Goggin said his client has had to undergo seven separate operations as a result of the accident. Callahan, who was not educated past high school, is not expected to ever be able to walk without the assistance of a cane or crutches, and is only eligible for sedentary employment, he said. In court papers, Callahan’s future lost wages were estimated to be $1.28 million. Goggin said he plans to file for delay damages in the neighborhood of $400,000. In Glover, the plaintiff was represented by Mark Tanner and Peter Newman of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter & Tanner in Philadelphia, while CSX was defended by Ed Kelbon of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. According to court papers, Kevin Glover was 43 in July 2004, when his fall occurred. Glover claimed that on the day of the accident, he had picked up a number of cars at a rail yard north of the city, according to court papers. After checking to ensure that all the handbrakes on those cars had been released, he began to pilot his train toward New Jersey. When a passing conductor signaled to Glover that he had seen sparks coming off the wheels of some of the cars Glover was pulling, Glover stopped the train and went to inspect the cars, according to court papers. Finding two cars with apparently partially engaged brake shoes, Glover began to release the handbrakes. The first handbrake was released without incident, but Glover claimed that the second required excessive force before it yielded. When it did, Glover alleged in court papers, he lost his grip and fell off the car to the ground below, striking his head. Glover claimed the fall left him with lasting headaches, injury to several discs in his neck and numbness in his hands. Plaintiff’s experts stated that his chances of returning to the job were poor, according to court papers. CSX responded in court papers that Glover had failed to follow proper company procedures for releasing a stuck brake. The company reasoned that Glover’s injuries were of the sort that should have resolved relatively soon after the accident. According to Tanner, the case proceeded to trial on Jan. 17 with Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Esther R. Sylvester presiding. After approximately three hours’ deliberations, the eight-member jury returned its verdict. He and Kelbon said that because the case was tried under the Federal Safety Appliance Act, and not FELA, the Glover jury was not permitted to consider Glover’s contributory negligence, if any. Kelbon said he will be filing post-trial motions, as his client believes it has “strong grounds” for reversal of the jury’s verdict. He would not say what those grounds are, and declined to comment further on the case. Prior to trial, CSX’s highest offer had been for $175,000, while Glover’s lowest demand had been for $1.5 million, according to Tanner. Tanner said Glover will file for delay damages totaling about $62,000.

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