A Columbus Georgia, jury awarded $5.5 million to a locomotive engineer injured when a van taking him to the rail yard was hit by a car that ran a stop sign, leaving him with an injured spine and shoulder.
The verdict was not against the at-fault driver—whose insurer settled—but against the plaintiff’s employer, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and the company it hired to transport workers.
Because the railroad turned down an offer to settle for $1 million earlier this year, the plaintiff will seek attorney fees under Georgia’s offer of judgment statute, which says a defendant who rejects a settlement offer then loses at trial may have to pay attorney fees from the date of the rejected offer.
“The tricky part of the case for the defense was that, because he worked for the railroad, we were able to travel under FELA [the Federal Employers’ Liability Act],” said attorney John Moss. Under the 1908 Act, railroad employees who are injured through any negligence on the railroad’s part are entitled to recover damages for those injuries as long as the employee is not at fault.