Appeals Court Affirms $6 Million Award in FELA Suit

June 15, 2006

Last week, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed a $6 million award in the case of a former Union Pacific Railroad worker who suffered serious injuries due to the negligence of his former employer.

According to the lawsuits, Frank Aloi, a railroad conductor in Nebraska, tripped on a piece of defective matting on the train steps and crashed headfirst into the door. He sustained traumatic brain injuries including serious injuries to his neck, back, and shoulder, and has undergone extensive corrective surgeries since the accident.

Plaintiff attorney Lou Jungbauer alleged that Union Pacific negligently violated the regulations of the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA), as well as the Locomotive Inspection Act, a federal statute requiring railroads to ensure their trains are in safe condition, and other federal safety regulations which require railroads to keep train walkways and floors clear of tripping hazards.

Union Pacific vigorously defended itself noting that no one had witnessed Aloi's fall and he exaggerated the extent of his injuries.

Jungbauer conducted an extensive investigation, which found that an inspection report after the accident did actually verify the defective matting and safety violations.

However, when Jungbauer requested the report and other maintenance and inspection reports, Union Pacific could not produce them. It was alleged that the railroad company destroyed the evidence to protect themselves after the accident.

The judge ordered the case to be tried by an appellate jury, who upheld the $6 million award to Aloi for his damages after finding that Union Pacific intentionally destructed relevant evidence that would have been crucial in the FELA lawsuit.

"This case is more about justice than money," said Aloi after hearing the verdict.

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