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The plaintiff railroad conductor contended that the defendant railroad improperly created a trough, inadequately covered it with ballast and wood chips, and failed to provide warnings. The plaintiff contended that as he was walking, he stepped on the area, that the ground gave way and his foot and leg fell into the hole. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant created a hazardous condition, and failed to either provide warnings or barricade the area.

The defendant maintained that the trough was necessary to place a required cable and denied that it acted negligently or provided an unsafe place to work. The defendant also pointed out that the plaintiff had walked the track in the past, had knowledge of the location of the cable trough and denied that its presence of any failure to warn was proximately related to the alleged injuries.

The plaintiff contended that he sustained several lumbar herniations and a tear of the medial meniscus that were confirmed by MRI. The plaintiff contended that he will suffer permanent pain and limitations despite extensive care, that surgery would not offer significant improvement and contended that he will permanently be unable to work. The plaintiff further maintained that the continuing pain and limitations on his lifestyle have caused a reactive depression.

The jury found the defendant 100% liable and awarded $650,000, including $405,000 for pain and suffering and $205,000 for future lost wages.

Plaintiff’s economist expert: Robert P. Wolf, EdD, MBA, from Cherry Hill, NJ. Plaintiff’s engineering expert: Wayne F. Nolte, PhD from Hazlet, NJ.