Verdict For Railroad Worker With Neck Injuries Caused By Defective Handrail


Hoey & Farina is proud to report that our firm has obtained a $546,375 verdict in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois on behalf of Joseph Davis, a former railroad switchman, and against the Belt Railway Co. of Chicago (“BRC”). The jury trial under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) began on January 15, and concluded on January 20, 2010.

On September 16, 2006, Mr. Davis was hostling units in the BRC’s Bedford Park Yard. To move the units through the rail yard, Mr. Davis had to line various switches for the units to pass. In this case, the engineer stopped the engine consist prior to a switch at the wye. As he climbed down the lead unit’s ladder to get to the switch, Mr. Davis held onto the handrails with each hand as required by the work rules. However, as he descended from the locomotive, the right handrail broke from the body of the unit. Mr. Davis fell to the ground and landed on his neck and left shoulder.

Mr. Davis returned to work the next day after his accident, but he was unable to climb into a unit due to a flail left arm. The engineer assigned to work with Mr. Davis that day admirably testified at trial that he demanded the job be terminated due to safety concerns for Mr. Davis. The following day, Mr. Davis sought medical attention for his injuries, which led to several months of treatment. Eventually, Mr. Davis required surgery to remove a ruptured cervical disk and fuse the adjacent vertebrae in his cervical spine. Mr. Davis returned to work in August 2007 and worked until December 2007, he retired from the BRC.

After the lawsuit was filed, Hoey & Farina crafted a strategic plan for discovery. The railroad’s attorneys, Daley Mohan Groble, P.C., initially denied liability on behalf of the BRC and alleged that the railroad had no responsibility for Mr. Davis’ injuries. Hoey & Farina then “cornered” the defense attorneys through various legal motions, and the BRC was forced to admit its liability for the defective handrail under the Locomotive Inspection Act. However, the railroad then claimed that Mr. Davis’ injuries were a result of pre-existing conditions and that the herniation to his cervical spine would have developed even had he not fallen from the locomotive.

Prior to the start of the jury trial, the BRC had offered $110,000 to settle. However, the offer was rejected.

At trial, the railroad’s expert witness, a neurosurgeon, testified that Mr. Davis’ condition was not a result of the fall but was pre-existing. On cross examination by Hoy & Farina, the neurosurgeon admitted that he earned over $550,000 per year while working only 5 to 10 hours per week as an expert witness. The neurosurgeon also maintained an active clinical practice.

Hoey & Farina sought money damages compensating Mr. Davis for his past and future lost wages, pain and suffering and permanent disability. The lawyers for the BRC argued to the jury that $81,000 was adequate compensation for the injury.

The jury was then asked to decide to what extent Mr. Davis’ fall from the locomotive caused his injuries, as well as the amount of damages to which he was entitled to under his FELA claim.

After the jury deliberated for two hours, the jury returned a verdict in the amount of $546,375 in favor of Mr. Davis.

Congratulations to Mr. Davis. If you have any questions regarding this case, the Locomotive Inspection Act or any FELA matter, please contact our office at 1-888-425-1212 or email

If you or a loved one have suffered a work injury or wrongful death on the railroad, call an experienced FELA lawyer / railroad injury attorney at Hoey & Farina, P.C. at 1-888-425-1212, or complete this form, for your FREE CONSULTATION. Hoey & Farina represents clients throughout the United States.


542 South Dearborn Street
Suite 200
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Main: (312) 939-1212
Toll Free: (888) 425-1212
Fax: (312) 939-7842
Representing clients throughout the United States.


Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
YouTube icon