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A federal jury recently awarded $1 million to a railroad worker who suffered a back injury on the job. Thomas Jenkins sued his employer, the Canadian Pacific Railroad, under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act. The verdict in Jenkins v. Delaware Hudson Railway, handed down by a jury in Scranton, Pa., represents one of the largest personal injury awards in that part of the state and one of the largest verdicts against a railroad for an employee injury, according to the attorney for the plaintiff. Gerard Martillotti, of Davis & Myers in Philadelphia, represented Jenkins. G. Sander Davis, from the same firm, was co-counsel for the plaintiff. Canadian Pacific is not appealing the case, and the company has agreed to pay the general verdict amount of $1 million to Jenkins, Davis said. Jenkins’ accident occurred in a section of Canadian Pacific’s Binghamton, N.Y., yard, where locomotives are stored when not in use. Some oil allegedly leaked from the locomotives onto the track. Jenkins slipped while walking over a track allegedly covered with oil, injuring his lower back. As a result of his accident, Jenkins suffered from a herniated disk in his lower back, which required an operation. His disability prevents him from returning to work. Orthopedic surgeons Ronald Greene of Philadelphia and Alan Gillick of Clarks Summit, Pa., testified on behalf of the plaintiff, stating surgery was necessary to repair Jenkins’ back injury. Other plaintiffs’ experts included vocational specialist Joseph Primavera and economist Andrew Verzilli. Paul Scanlan of Duane Morris & Hecksher in Harrisburg, Pa., represented the railroad. Scanlan declined comment regarding the trial. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the defense claimed the oil on the ground was an open and obvious situation, one that occurs in every railway yard. The railroad argued that the area was never a source of concern since the company conducted regular inspections, and no employees had filed safety complaints, according to Davis. “The defense said [Jenkins] should have watched where he was walking,” Davis said. The jury apparently agreed, to a certain extent. They found Jenkins 20 percent at fault for the accident, and the railroad 80 percent at fault. The defense also claimed nobody witnessed Jenkins’ accident, suggesting it may never have occurred, Davis said. In addition, rehabilitation specialist and physiatrist John Kline Jr. of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., testified on behalf of the defense that Jenkins did not have a herniated disk. The trial was held before Middle District of Pennsylvania Judge A. Richard Caputo. The federal jury of four men and three women took roughly two and one-half hours before returning with a unanimous verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The verdict was not reduced by a pre-trial agreement nor is there a cap on the verdict, according to Davis. There were also no settlement offers before the trial. “I think the jury really did a very good job of working through some of the medical issues that were in dispute,” Martillotti said in a press release. “There is no doubt they believed that Tommy Jenkins had suffered a severe and permanent injury and that the conditions at his workplace caused those injuries.” Delay damages did not apply to this case, Davis said.

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