Crushed Rail Worker’s Family Awarded $4.3M

March 26, 2007

A jury has awarded $4.3 million in a Federal Employment Liability Act lawsuit to the family of a man who was crushed to death by a reversing train three years ago.

A train hit Robert Ard, 48, a conductor from Fairfield, Conn., employed by Metro-North, while his crew was moving trains into position for the morning rush.

“This is an important verdict because the jury held metro-north accountable for its failure to enforce its own safety and operating rules on its property,” said the attorney who represents Ard’s Wife, Diane and their two daughters, Charles Goetsch.

“The mentality that the railroad had fostered was safety last – get it done quick and dirty and we’ll look the other way. I asked the jury to send a verdict that this is unacceptable, that this is not how a railroad is supposed to be run. They sure did.”

The Blame

The jury decided that the railroad violated its operating rules, which require employees to radio engineers to ensure that the tracks are clear before train engines are reversed, Goetsch said.

Railroad spokesperson Marjorie Anders said, “In the verdict, Robert Ard was found to have contributed to his own death by his own failure to adhere to safety rules, so the award ($4.3 million) was reduced by 25 percent,” said railroad spokeswoman Marjorie Anders. The railroad was thus found 75 percent responsible.

“What came out in this trial is that Metro-North did not enforce or follow that operating rule in Stamford Yard, said Goetsch. “The top managers all admitted it was not enforced and followed. The chief rules person said it should have been, and it he had known it wasn’t being followed, he would have done something.”

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