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Schlichter Bogard & Denton Defend Railroad Injury Standards Before U.S. Supreme Court

Schlichter Bogard & Denton will defend a decades old standard of proof before the United States Supreme Court on October 10, 2006. In response to an injury case against Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., Sorrell v. Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., the railroad company is challenging the standards for proving the causal connection between a railroad’s negligence and an employee’s injury.

In Sorrell v. Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., Timothy Sorrell successfully sued the Norfolk Southern Railroad under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) for injuries he sustained in a truck accident when he drove a Norfolk truck into a ditch while attempting to avoid another Norfolk truck on a narrow road.

Now in Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. v. Sorrell, Norfolk Southern Railroad is challenging a Missouri county court’s standard of negligence following the Missouri Approved Instructions by asserting that FELA standards conflict with Missouri standards. Norfolk’s interpretation of the FELA standard would substantially reduce the railroad’s liability and compensation to Sorrell who was awarded $1.5 million in damages.

On appeal, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the original Sorrell verdict and the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

A decision in favor of Norfolk Southern by the U.S. Supreme Court could impact all future injury cases brought against railroad companies by their employees by reinterpreting the established standard in favor of the railroad companies.

The American Association of Railroads has joined with Norfolk Southern Railroad in an effort to change this well established law.

Schlichter Bogard & Denton filed a brief with the Supreme Court supported by seven rail labor unions to defend the established standard. The firm will argue the case before the Court in Washington, D.C., on October 10, 2006.

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