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Railroads Lose Supreme Court Fight Over Worker Suits

June 28, 2011, 9:37 am

The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling against a CSX Corp. (CSX) unit, made it easier for railroad industry workers to win lawsuits blaming their company for injuries they suffered on the job.

The justices, voting 5-4, today upheld a $184,250 award to a locomotive engineer who said CSX Transportation Inc. was responsible for a hand injury he suffered while at the helm of a train.

The case centered on the test for determining whether a railroad’s negligence was the cause of an employee’s injury. The federal judge overseeing the CSX trial in Benton, Illinois, told the jury that the railroad was responsible if its negligence “played a part -- no matter how small -- in bringing about the injury.”

CSX contended workers should have to meet the more demanding standard, known as proximate cause, that applies in other types of personal-injury suits.

In upholding the award, the Supreme Court said the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, which governs railroad industry suits, lets workers recover damages without meeting the proximate cause test.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the court’s majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito dissented.  Read More....

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