A St. Clair County jury found a railroad company liable for the injuries received by one of its employees.
The jury unanimously found in favor of Union Pacific Railroad worker Don Currie and ordered the railroad to pay him over $1 million to compensate him for cumulative trauma injuries sustained to his lower back.
Currie, 48, of Villa Grove, was a track welder for 20 years. He repaired and maintained railroad track throughout Central and Southern Illinois and was often required to work what the railroad called "punitive overtime hours," without the assistance of other qualified track welders.
The week-long trial was held in St. Clair County in front of Circuit Court Judge Vincent J. Lopinot. Currie was represented by attorney Nelson G. Wolff of the St. Louis law firm of Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, and Union Pacific was represented by the Thompson Coburn law firm.
During the trial, Currie claimed that the welding work repeatedly exposed his spine to prolonged awkward postures and caused his spinal disks to wear out over time. He was diagnosed with herniated lumbar discs and nerve root impingement and required surgery to remove one disc and fuse two.
The railroad company denied the claim and stated the work did not contribute in any part to cause Currie's injuries. It instead claimed the back injuries were caused by smoking and genetics.
Evidence during the trial showed that many other track workers had also reported cumulative trauma injuries at work and the railroad had denied that any of them were related to work.