Verdict for Union Pacific in California FELA Trial
February 13, 2020 (San Bernardino, CA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young secured a very favorable verdict in an admitted liability Federal Employer’s Liability Act case. The Los Angeles office represented the defendants as lead trial counsel. The two-week bench trial was before the Honorable Donna G. Garza in the California Superior Court for San Bernardino County.
Plaintiff was involved in a van accident while in the course and scope of his employment with Union Pacific Railroad Company. Liability was admitted early in the case to limit discovery and focus on Plaintiff’s alleged damages. After securing orders allowing Union Pacific to introduce damaging evidence at trial, Plaintiff was forced to waive a jury trial due to the risk that the evidence obtained by defense counsel would be damaging when viewed by a jury. Accordingly, the case proceeded as a bench trial.
At trial, Plaintiff, who worked as a conductor for Union Pacific, alleged that he suffered past and future wage loss of nearly four million dollars. Union Pacific countered Plaintiff’s claims by arguing that his wage loss was primarily attributable to his failure to mitigate his damages – not to any injuries that were suffered in the accident.
The Court rendered a verdict for Plaintiff in the amount of $552,070, limiting Plaintiff’s wage loss claim to $452,070 and awarding a nominal amount for pain and suffering. The verdict was a fraction of both Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand to resolve the matter and the amount requested from the Court during trial.
Plaintiff was represented by Victor Russo of Hildebrand, McLeod & Nelson. Plaintiffs’ experts at trial were Jacob Tauber, M.D., Robert Eastlack, M.D., and James Mills (economist). Testifying for the defense was Dr. P. Douglas Kiester (orthopedics) and Ted Vavoulis (economist).