Jury Awards $2.75 Million Judgment to BNSF Railway Worker Represented by Schlichter Bogard

On October 19, 2023, a St. Louis City jury awarded $2.75 million to Doug Overfield, who was injured in February 2018 while working as a conductor for BNSF Railway Co. Overfield suffered spine injuries when his reflective vest snagged on a protruding door handle as he was attempting to exit through the narrow passageway leading from the cab. He fell down the steps and was diagnosed with multiple fractures and herniated discs. After undergoing spine surgery, he was advised to retire from the railroad and seek light-duty work. Overfield filed a claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), alleging BNSF’s negligence in failing to provide reflective coats instead of vests, which were known to snag on locomotive equipment. BNSF argued that vests were an industry standard and denied liability. The jury, in an 11-1 verdict, found BNSF 100% at fault, validating Overfield’s claims and compensating him for lost earnings.

Doug, a dedicated third-generation union railroad worker, relied on BNSF for proper reflective clothing. Our investigation uncovered numerous similar incidents and ignored safety complaints. BNSF prioritized profit over safety, by refusing to provide workers with long sleeved garments that could have prevented injuries. Instead of taking responsibility, they blamed Doug and attacked his credibility. The jury recognized BNSF’s disregard for safety the verdict vindicates Doug’s character and compensates him for a decade of lost earnings.

For additional information about Schlichter Bogard’s railroad injury practice, please contact us at 800-873-5297 or via email at contact@uselaws.com.