The Plaintiff, Winfred Evans, then age 46 years old, was a freight conductor for Norfolk Southern Railway when he was the passenger in a van that was used to carry workers for the railway in the Inman Rail Yard in Georgia. The van was owned by Professional Transportation, Inc. (a/k/a PTI). On this particular day, the van in which Evans was riding was running parallel to a set of tracks of the railroad when it approached a railroad crossing simultaneously with a train. Instead of stopping to wait for the train, however, the van turned in front of the train causing the train to strike the side of the van in which Evans was riding.
Although the van was only traveling at a rate of speed of approximately 8 to 10 miles per hour, it struck the van with enough force to cause Evans severe and permanent injuries. Fortunately, the person riding in the back of the van was not hurt. It is unknown if the driver of the van was injured, but it is known that he was subsequently fired from his job as a driver.
Evans was not taken from the scene in an ambulance and was hoping that home remedies would cure his pain. The next day, however, when he awoke he had trouble moving which prompted his wife to take him to the emergency room. Evans continued on with physical therapy to no avail. He then sought treatment with an orthopedic doctor who diagnosed him with strain in his left shoulder, and cervical and lumbar strain. He was also told that eventually he would need surgery. As a result of his injuries, Evans was unable to work for 17 months causing him a tremendous amount of lost wages.
After several attempts at settlement, including mediation, failed, the case went to trial in front of a Fulton County Superior Court Jury in April, 2015. The jury had the daunting task of determining whether or not the Plaintiff Evans’ injuries were serious and permanent, and whether the injuries were caused solely by the accident in the case at bar. In reality, the jury had to determine whether or not the Plaintiff would ever be able to work again, and, if so, when.
To assist the jury in making this determination, Richard Boehme, a Florida neurologist, would testify that he performed a nerve-conduction study on the Plaintiff and made the prediction, as stated earlier, that Evans would indeed need surgery in the future. It was further determined that Evans had a torn annulus in his back which is the outer covering of a spinal disk, and that the tear caused Evans permanent nerve damage.
Plaintiff’s experts further testified that Evans would lose at least six (6) years of employment due to this severe injury which would bring into play another interesting twist to this case since both Federal and State Law applied, and this would raise the challenge of calculating the lost wages in a manner that would satisfy both Federal and State Law since lost wages are calculated differently under each law. Fortunately, as all attorneys in the case acknowledged, the Honorable Alford Dempsey of the Fulton County, Georgia, Superior Court, a former economics major, was patient and helpful in making sure that the lost wage claim satisfied both Federal and State Law.
After 5 1/2 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Evans and apportioned damages as follows: 1.) $ 90,000.00 for future medical expenses; 2.) $ 360,000.00 for pain and suffering; 3.) Over $ 500,000.00 for the federal claims of pain and suffering; and 4.) Almost $ 760,000.00 for the state lost wages; the total verdict was over $ 1.7 Million. The jury further apportioned 80% of the liability to Norfolk Southern (the train that hit the vehicle); and 20% to PTI (the owner of the van in which the Plaintiff was a passenger).
Since the details of Federal and State Law in terms of how lost wage damages are calculated; with the State calculating lost wages pre-tax, and Federal Law calculating lost wages under FELA in net terms, the actual damage award had to be re-configured accordingly. After said calculations, it was determined that the actual award was approximately $ 1.04 Million. The Defense is expected to file post-trial motions.
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The following is a Video (Courtesy of Courtroom View Network):
VIDEO: In Million-Dollar Train Crash Trial, Lawyer Says Collision Cut Worker’s Career in Half