FELA Claims

For over 100 years the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) has been the sole remedy of railroad workers and their families who were injured or killed while working. This is unique to injured railroad workers, as almost every other occupation in the United States is under state workers’ compensation systems. Unlike FELA, workers’ compensation packages do not meet the needs of severely injured workers and their families. To recover under FELA, however, it is necessary to first establish some negligence on the part of the railroad. Injured railroad workers must prove that the railroad did something wrong in order to…

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Mischief Makers Beware: Court Sanctions Railroad For Destruction Of Evidence And Litigation Abuses

A week before trial was scheduled to begin in Kowalewski v. BNSF, a Hennepin County judge sanctioned the railroad for its extensive cover-up and litigation abuses. This misconduct included destruction of and intentional failure to preserve evidence at the scene; destroying shipping papers for the railroad cars involved; destroying video of the railroad yard; paying witnesses; conducting a sham investigation; making false statements to the FRA; refusing to comply with the Court’s orders; and other discovery and litigation abuses were uncovered during the course of the case. The entire 42-page order is attached here. As part of those sanctions, the…

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Record-Setting FELA Verdict

A Hennepin County jury awarded a record-setting FELA verdict of $15,343,753 to Scott Kowalewski for severe and progressive neurological injuries he suffered while working in a BNSF railroad yard in 2014. The accident happened when BNSF mishandled tanker cars carrying toxic petrochemicals in the railyard, causing the cars to vent poisonous gas where Mr. Kowalewski was working. The cars were being hauled through the BNSF Northtown Yard in Minneapolis on their way to Canada. Attorney Joe Sayler of the Bolt Hoffer Boyd Law Firm was Co-Counsel on the trial team. Scott Kowalewski experienced serious neurological problems immediately after he was…

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Questions Surrounding the State of Rail Safety Abound in the Wake of the Washington Amtrak Derailment

As news and investigative reports continue to pour in, it has become clear that the Amtrak derailment should not have occurred and that the safety procedures of the rail industry need to be reviewed. Questions abound. As the NTSB has noted, “So far, there are many questions but few answers.” It’s unclear why the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone. Safety procedures such as positive train control were not in effect. The incident also raises the question of why Amtrak is not requiring two-person crews in locomotive cabs instead of one. On Thursday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell…

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Washington Train Accident 12/18/17

At least 3 people were killed and more than 100 injured when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state, near DuPont, early in the morning of December 18, 2017. The crash happened about 7:40 a.m. near DuPont, which is about twenty miles south of Tacoma. Preliminary reports are that the train came out of a curve and ran off the track while crossing or approaching an open trestle over I-5. Train cars derailed and cascaded off of both sides of the track, with several falling onto the highway and crashing into vehicles. One rail car dangled dramatically over the…

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