Last week a Broward County jury found CSX Corporation (NYSE: CSX) responsible for a railway worker's back injury but also assigned 99% responsibility to the plaintiff, drastically reducing the amount of actual damages awarded.
"We are suing CSX because they violated their own principles," Holland told the jury. "The rule states you're supposed to use a Knucklemate or a strap, but CSX never provided Knuckelmates and never provided straps."
An intake form from Smith's treating physician immediately after the incident showed he did not list any prior back problems of any kind, despite having suffered repeated back injuries over a 21-year career in the Coast Guard, some that required significant medical treatment. Waterway claimed Smith failed to properly align his feet prior to pushing the coupling, and that failure to correctly use a safe technique aggravated an already weakened back.
In the end, the fact a Knucklemate was not present on Smith's service locomotive the day of the incident likely resulted in the assignment of some fault to CSX, instead of the jury simply finding CSX not liable for Smith's injury. CSX admitted that although Smith could have called back to get one, a Knucklemate was not present on site that day.
After a one-week trial before Judge Jack Tuter, the jury awarded Smith $156,000, of which he will receive only $1,560 (1%).
The case is Charles Smith v. CSX Trans Inc. CACE06009580