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Verdicts & Settlements
Railroad Settles for $850,000 After Defective Chair Collapses Injuring Ticket Clerk
The plaintiff, a 50 year old lead ticket agent, was injured when the chair in which she was sitting at Amtrakâ€™s Newark Penn station collapsed beneath her, causing her to fall to the floor.Â She injured her neck, back and left shoulder and underwent lumbar laminectomy/spinal fusion at L5-S1, as well as arthroscopic shoulder surgery. When the plaintiff attempted to return to her job as a ticket clerk, she was unable to perform her duties. The railroad admitted liability, but disputed the severity and causation of plaintiffâ€™s injuries. The railroad also claimed the plaintiff had failed to mitigate her damages by not having recommended medical treatment. The case was settled on the eve of trial for $850,000.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Kamaal D. Clarke v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Essex County Superior Court, New Jersey, ESX-L-2651-06.
Paul G. Moody and Willard J. Moody, Sr. of MOODY, STROPLE, KLOEPPEL & HIGGINBOTHAM, Portsmouth, VA for plaintiff.Â
5 Million Dollar Jury Verdict
Patrick W. Casale won the largest jury verdict ever awarded in Virginia, under
the Federal Employersâ€™ Liability Act, in 1992. Casale won $1.3 million from a jury. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the liability of CSX Transportation, Inc., but sent the case back for a new trial. A second jury awarded Casale $2 million and, again, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed it. A third jury awarded Casale $5 million. Instead of a fourth trial, Attorney Willard J. Moody of Portsmouth, who represented Casale, reached a settlement with CSX. The settlement amount remained confidential, but Moody termed it â€śa very satisfactory amountâ€ť.
A communications maintenance worker, Casale was injured in February 1990 while working on a utility pole on an island in the Roanoke River.
Jury awards man $1.7 million
A Circuit court awarded $1.7 million to a 25-year old yard brakeman, who injured his back while employed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Co. in Logan,
W. VA. Wondel Lee Wiley accused the company of negligence, saying his supervisors ordered him to lift an 80-pound steel knuckle, which caused him to rupture a disc.
Wiley underwent back surgery in April 1985. As a result of his injury, Wiley could no longer lift more than 20 pounds and was unable to do work requiring bending, stooping or climbing.Â Lead counsel in the trial of the case was Byron P. Kloeppel of the Law Firm of Moody, Strople & Kloeppel, Ltd.
Worker Awarded $2.6 Million
A jury ordered Norfolk Southern Corp. to pay a former brakeman $2.6 million after he sued, claiming the noise of locomotives and train whistles left him with a hearing problem that drove him crazy.Â
Attorneys for Allan Couch told the Roanoke Circuit Court jury about the persistent roaring in Couchâ€™s ears, which made him insane. â€śIt just drove him crazy; he couldnâ€™t handle it anymore,â€ť said Willard J. Moody, Sr. According to testimony in the Couch case, tinnitus, or the roaring in Couchâ€™s ears, pushed him into states of deep depression and psychosis.
Railroad lawyers argued that Couch was mentally ill all along, and that he became increasingly paranoid to the point that he believed that agents for the railroad were hiding in storm sewers and behind trees to spy on him. â€śI believe that the ringing in my ears has been so dramatic that I can not tolerate anything today,â€ť he told the jury.
Couchâ€™s lawyers argued, the railroad knew for years that air horns, whistles, and engines on its locomotives caused dangerously high noise levels, but did not require engineers and brakemen to wear ear protection until 1990. By that time, it was too late for Couch, who, for twenty-two years, worked for the railroad from 1970 to 1992.
Railroader Wins $1.6 Million
Largest award in history of the City of Portsmouthâ€™s Courts
It only took ninety minutes for a Portsmouth Circuit Court jury to award $1.6 million to a railroad brakeman. The decision, ordering the largest sum ever awarded in Portsmouth Circuit Court, resulted from a five-day trial in which Ronald Riggan, 28, of Macon, N.C., was represented by Attorney Willard J. Moody, Sr. to seek recovery from the Seaboard Cost Line Railroad for a work related injury. Riggan was awarded $1 million for loss of income and $600,000 for his injury, all tax free. Court officials were quoted as saying the total amount was more than double the previous, largest amount awarded in the Portsmouth Circuit Court.
Riggan, his family and attorneys were visibly pleased by the juryâ€™s verdict at the end of the trial. Rigganâ€™s supporters embraced each other and congratulated Rigganâ€™s attorney, Willard J. Moody, Sr. Mr. Riggan testified, that he was crossing the end of a boxcar while the train was moving, and the brake wheel came off in his hand. Railroad and safety inspectors testified that the brake wheel was stripped and rusty, and, therefore, in violation of the federal safety regulations.Â
During the five-day trial, more than a dozen witnesses testified, with the most emotional testimony coming from Riggan himself.Â He testified for almost three hours, and burst into tears during cross-examination. Scores of photographs showing Rigganâ€™s legs shortly after surgery and scenes of the accident were introduced as evidence.
Railroad Settles for $1 Million
It was the third time in his professional career, that Willard J. Moody, Sr. collected a court award or settlement in excess of one million dollars for his client. Moody specialized in representing railroad claimants and concentrated in that particular niche for his professional career. â€śMy father-in-law was a railroad engineer and his railroad friends needed a railroad attorney occasionally,â€ť Moody explains.
This third million dollar case resulted from an accident involving a railroad employee who was knocked down in the early morning hours by three runaway cars while trying to repair an air leak in another car.Â The three runaway cars careened into him â€śknocking him underneath the gears and cutting off his right leg below the kneeâ€ť, according to the plaintiffâ€™s sworn statement.
Amongst the mistakes made by the railroad, Moody said, were a defective engine, railroad tracks that were illegally too close, and violations of the federal Boiler Maintenance and Employees Liability Acts. â€śThorough investigation is really whatâ€™s needed,â€ť Moody was quoted as saying.Â â€śYou must know enough about railroading to understand how accidents happen.Â You must understand enough about medicine for that part of the caseâ€ť. â€śThe railroads,â€ť Moody concluded, â€śhave a long way to go improving safety standards. Some railroads figure itâ€™s cheaper to pay for arms and legs than improvements,â€ť he said.
In regards to his client, Mr. Moody observed, â€śHe is as happy as a guy can be, when he doesnâ€™t have a leg. He is happy to have the money to support his family.Â Obviously, heâ€™ll never be able to work on the railroad again.â€ť
Woman injured in â€śOld 611â€ť wreck
Awarded $900, 000
A woman injured her back in the wreck of the â€śOld 611â€ť steam engine and won a $900,000 verdict from a Portsmouth jury. Barbara Greenstreet, 42, of Virginia Beach, argued, the May 1986 accident left her unable to work and in constant pain. Greenstreet had a disc removed from her back because of injuries sustained in the accident and was forced to quit her job as a condominium manager because of her back problems. Attorney Willard J. Moody, Sr., who represented Ms. Greenstreet, reported that she received four times more than the $200,000 amount offered by officials for Norfolk Southern Corp. to settle the case out of court.
Jury votes $950,000 for train wreck victim
The wreck of an excursion train, pulled by the vintage Old 611 steam engine, resulted in another large jury verdict. The train had derailed in the Great Dismal Swamp, near the Chesapeake-Suffolk border. A jury voted to award $950,000 to Annie Harrell. Ms. Harrell was thrown from her seat in one of the classic coaches, tossed around and onto the floor, reported her lawyer, Willard Moody, Sr.
Defense attorneys had argued that she received only minor injuries.Â â€śHarrell, herself, did not immediately realize how seriously she had been hurt,â€ť Moody argued. â€śShe realized she had pain but not that she was seriously injured.â€ť Moody said. During the next year, she began to have back problems. About a year after the wreck, she developed headaches and diagnosed with a brain tumor.
â€śItâ€™s one of the first cases weâ€™ve had with that particular set of circumstances where somebody has a tumor and it is aggravated and causes some pretty bad problems.â€ť
ROANOKE TIMES, THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 1996
BY LAURENCE HAMMACK
A Roanoke jury has awarded $650,000 to three retired railroad employees who were exposed to asbestos while working in dust-filled shops throughout their careers with Norfolk Southern Corp.
This was the first time a Roanoke Circuit Court jury had decided such
Willard Moody, Jr., a Portsmouth lawyer who represented the men, said they were exposed to toxic dust that contained asbestos while working in the railroadâ€™s East End and Shaffers Crossing Shops.
Norfolk Southern â€“ corporate descendant of the Norfolk & Western Railway â€“ has known of the danger of asbestos for half a century, Moody said.
But, he said, the railroad did nothing to warn or protect its workers from asbestosis, a life-threatening lung disease.
â€śThey will never be the same and every breath they take will be a reminder of what the railroad did to them,â€ť Moody said of his clients.Â Despite knowing that asbestos was dangerous, the railroad did not provide proper ventilation in buildings or give its workers protective gear, Moody said.Â â€śThey did absolutely nothing,â€ť he said.Â Â Â Â
Robert M. Hahn v. The Long Island Rail Road â€“ A jury awarded $3,750,000 to Robert M. Hahn, a 41 year old Long Island Rail Road trackman represented by Moody, Strople & Kloeppel, Ltd.
Mr. Hahn tripped and fell on a discarded chain-link fence while replacing a cross tie. He suffered two herniated discs in his lower back that required three separate back operations.Â The permanently injured railroad worker alleged the defendant railroad negligently failed to inspect and clean its premises and negligently failed to warn him of a dangerous condition.
Although Mr. Hahn was working for the railroad company at the time of the trial, medical evidence showed that he probably would not be able to continue employment in the near future.
$1.5 MILLION JURY AWARD
A jury in Norfolk Circuit Court awarded $1.5 million to a Norfolk Southern employee who suffered a broken leg in an accident at the Portlock yard in Portsmouth.Â The employee was hurt in June 1992 when he drove a tractor onto a flatbed trailer and it fell off the side of the trailer as a result of alleged defective brakes, said his attorney, Willard J. Moody, Sr.
Because of the injury, the employee could not return to work, Moody said, and he asked the jury for $489,000 in lost wages, plus $1 million for pain and suffering. The trial lasted five days.Â The jury deliberated three hours, then awarded Jackson the full amount he requested. It was the third million-dollar verdict that year awarded to a plaintiff represented by Willard J. Moody, Sr. In May of that year, a Portsmouth jury awarded $1.8 million to a railroad brakeman who suffered hearing loss on the job.Â In January, a previous Portsmouth jury awarded $1 million to a railroad brakeman hurt on the job.
FELA â€“ Ruptured Cervical
Disc â€“ Myofascial Syndrome
Awarded Amount - $1,044,995
Saunders, 32, was injured when without warning a co-worker negligently lowered a 400 lb. load of steel roundstock while Saunders was assisting him, causing Saunders to sustain a ruptured cervical disc and severe muscle tearing in the upper back.Â He sought conservative medical treatment with a neurosurgeon approximately two months later, and eventually underwent a discectomy at the C5-6 level in 1993.Â Saunders returned to work later that year, but was eventually medically disqualified in December 1995.
An $850,000 settlement was awarded to a railroad brakeman whose pelvis was crushed when the train on which he was working derailed on an area of track with a history of derailments. The brakeman was represented in U.S, District Court by the law firm Moody, Strople, and Kloeppel Ltd. ofÂ Portsmouth, VA.
He was coupling loaded coal hopper cars at a coal operation in Virginia. Two cars would not couple, due to a curve in the track. The plaintiff climbed onto the brake platform, dropping the cut of cars onto the train. The couplers bypassed, pinning the brakeman between the cars, crushing his left pelvis.Â The railroad denied responsibility for the conditions by claiming the cause was water as the result of runoff from the coal mining operation.
$836,625 Verdict for Railroader
A fifty-five year old engineer, with CSX Transportation, Inc., was switching coal when his foot went through a rotten spot in the floor of his engine.Â The floor had previously been repaired by placing a sheet metal plate over a rotten spot in the floor in front of the firemanâ€™s door.Â While the engineer was walking out the door, he stepped on the plate and his foot went through the floor causing injuries to his lower back and ankle.Â He sustained two bulging discs in his lower back, which resulted in chronic pain in his lower back.Â No surgery was required, but he was unable to return to work as an engineer.Â A jury verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of $836,625.Â
The plaintiff was represented at trial by Willard J. Moody, Sr. and Willard J. Moody, Jr., of Moody, Strople & Kloeppel, Ltd.
$835,000 awarded for injury in derailment
PORTSMOUTH â€“ A retired rail worker won an $835,000 award after the derailment of the â€śOld 611â€ť steam train.Â Thomas E. Coates, 70, of Virginia Beach, whose ankle was crushed in the rail disaster, wept and shook the jurorsâ€™ hands after the verdict was announced.Â
â€śIt was a very satisfactory verdict for many reasons,â€ť Coatesâ€™ attorney, Willard J. Moody, Sr., said.Â â€śWe feel that the jury has placed a value on this manâ€™s claim.â€ťÂ Moody argued that the ankle injuries and complications that ensued had left Coates unable to do most of the activities he enjoyed.
In court testimony, Coates said he was flung from his seat in rail car No. 13 and knocked unconscious as the train jumped off the track.Â His was the only car to turn over in the accident.Â Moody said Coates was an active man who had lost his ability to hunt, do yard work or march in a parade with the civic groups to which he belongs.
The plaintiff, a locomotive engineer, was turning out a main reservoir cutout valve underneath the locomotive steps when he injured his back by pulling on the valve to get it closed. The plaintiff alleged the valve was placed on the pipe backwards and had not been properly serviced and maintained because it was extremely hard to turn.Â The plaintiff sustained a ruptured disc at L5-S1, which required discectomy and fusion of his lower back, and was disabled from his duties as an engineer.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
The railroadâ€™s defense counsel claimed the plaintiff suffered from chronic pain disorder which caused him to unnecessarily go through several surgical procedures to cure his low back pain and leg pain. The defense also alleged the plaintiff had a poor work record and was a low wage earner among other locomotive engineers.
His total annual loss as an engineer was approximately $65,000 per year. He could not return to work as an engineer. The jury awarded $770,000.
Attorneys for the plaintiff were Willard J. Moody, Jr. and Willard J. Moody, Sr., of Moody, Strople & Kloeppel, Ltd. in Portsmouth VA.
The plaintiff, a 38 year old carman, suffered a herniated disc while working with cables at a derailment in Evansville, Indiana. Although mechanical means, including a Hoesch truck with a crane, a Bobcat, and a rented crane were available to move the cables to the derailment site, the plaintiff and a coworker were directed to manually drag the cables up a grassy incline. The plaintiff sustained a herniated disc at L5-S1 and underwent a laminectomy. Following his surgery, he missed approximately seven months of work and was left with a 5% permanent impairment of his whole body. Although he was able to return to work for the railroad, medical testimony indicated it was unlikely he would be able to continue working as a carman past the age of fifty.
Paul G. Moody and Willard J. Moody, Sr. represented the plaintiff at trial.
Carman Injured Back While Repairing Coal Chute Door on Car â€“ $700,000 Verdict.Â The plaintiff, a carman, repairs railroad coal cars.Â While reaching under a railroad coal car to pull out a seventy-two pound coal chute door that he was replacing, the plaintiff injured his back and missed six weeks of work, losing approximately $3,800 in wages.Â The plaintiff suffered a small central and lateral disc herniation at L5-S1.Â The plaintiff argued that the defendant did not provide a reasonably safe place to work in that the defendant failed to provide forklifts, cranes, ramps, or other equipment which other railroads use to remove coal chute doors and that the defendant failed to provide adequate training and instruction on the removal of coal door pans.
Moody, Strople & Kloeppel, Ltd., Attorney for the Plaintiff; Cecil L. Hatfield v. Norfolk and Western Rwy. Co.
The plaintiff was performing an initial terminal brake test when he detected an air leak, requiring him to cross through the train. Plaintiff walked to the nearest flat car to use its brake step to cross over. The brake step gave way due to a broken support bracket. Plaintiff fell more than four feet to ties and ballast below. A mechanical inspection report prepared by the railroad later indicated a â€ś100% old breakâ€ť in the support bracket.
Plaintiff sought to recover under FELA and the SAA. Discovery revealed that the defendant has been in charge of the car from which plaintiff fell for approximately two weeks after accepting it at the interchange, and the car had been placed in four different trains. Defense counsel for the railroad argued that plaintiffâ€™s own failure to inspect the brake step as the sole cause of injury. Plaintiffâ€™s orthopedic physician testified the plaintiffâ€™s arthritis would most likely cause him to leave railroad service â€świthin ten years.â€ť
At the conclusion of a four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff for $630,000. Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Michael R. Davis and Willard J. Moody, Jr. of Moody, Strople, Kloeppel & Higginbotham, Inc.
Kevin T. King v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.
$1 Million Verdict
The plaintiff, a carmanâ€™s helper, was carrying seat cushions from an Amtrak passenger coach. As she was carrying the cushions the plaintiff stepped into an open trap door and fell approximately fifteen feet to the floor of the inspection pit, beneath the service track.Â The plaintiffâ€™s left forearm caught on a metal latch, tearing her arm open from below the elbow to above the wrist.Â She also sustained a comminuted fracture of her right tibia.Â The plaintiff missed six months from work with a net wage loss of approximately $12,000.Â The plaintiff claimed negligence by the defendant for failing to have a system in place for insuring that trap doors were closed and secured at high platform locations.Â The plaintiff presented witnesses who testified that trap doors were routinely left open in violation of the defendantâ€™s rules.
FELA Asbestos Exposure Case: Settled for $1.7 Million
The plaintiff, Cobb, had worked as a pipe fitter for a railroad from 1943 to 1954.Â During this time, his duties included working in shops where asbestos was applied and removed from the boilers and pipes of steam locomotives.Â Approximately forty-six years after leaving the railroad, at age 72, he developed malignant mesothelioma.Â Cobb sued the railroad under the Federal Employersâ€™ Liability Act (FELA), alleging the defendant knew asbestos exposure could cause lung disease at the time plaintiff was working for the defendant.Â Plaintiff also claimed defendant was aware of measures that could prevent or reduce the risk of lung disease.Â
The case was handled by Willard J. Moody, Jr. and settled on the eve of trial for $1.7 million.
The cases shown above are representative of some of the favorable verdicts and settlements The Moody Law Firm has obtained for our clients. The Moody Law Firm has represented hundreds of clients and not every case in which we have been involved has resulted in a favorable verdict or settlement. The cases handled by The Moody Law Firm sometimes involve complex medical and scientific issues and are zealously represented by experienced attorneys for the other parties. The facts of every case are different and the results shown here should not be construed as a predictor of future results or a guarantee as to the outcome of any particular case.
Contact us for additional information about these representative cases or other cases handled by The Moody Law Firm.