Schlichter Bogard Obtains Record $12 Million Trial Verdict for Injured Railroad Worker
As reported by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, Schlichter Bogard & Denton has obtained a $12 million verdict on behalf of injured switchman Christopher Cole—the largest railroad injury verdict in the history of St. Louis County—against his employer, Kansas City Southern Railway (“KCS”).
Mr. Cole, 47, of Creve Coeur, Missouri, was injured in 2020 while aboard a freight train in Godfrey, Illinois, when he was struck by a sign that had been planted in the ground dangerously close to the tracks. Mr. Cole fell, and both legs were crushed beneath the train. In the incident’s immediate aftermath, Mr. Cole was airlifted to BJC Medical Center in St. Louis, where he underwent emergency surgery to amputate parts of both legs. He was subjected to nine further surgeries before being fitted for prosthetic limbs. Mr. Cole’s claim, brought under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, sought compensation for lost wages and future lifecare needs, among other expenses.
On November 4, the jury returned its verdict for Mr. Cole, finding that KCS violated a state law requiring minimum clearances to the side of railroad tracks which contributed to cause the injury. The jury also assessed fault to the railroad for its unsafe work methods.
Speaking to Missouri Lawyers Weekly, Schlichter Bogard & Denton Senior Partner Nelson Wolff stated: “We hope this verdict sends a message to all railroads that this unsafe, arcane work practice should be prohibited and that profits should not be more important than safety. This verdict will allow [Mr. Cole] to obtain the necessary care recommended by his nurse life care planner and live his best life.”
The case is styled Cole v. The Kansas City Southern Ry. Co., Case 20-SL-CC02495.