A federal appeals court on Thursday ordered the reinstatement of a $ 500,000 jury reward to a dismissed railway worker and overturned the trial judge’s ruling in favor of the railway, in a case over a security.
The decision of the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis centers on the rule of the BNSF Railway Co., based in Fort Worth, Texas, regarding a hy-rail, a pickup truck that can operate at the both on the road and on the tracks, depending on the stop Daniel Monohon v. BNSF Railway Co.
During a conference call in September 2012, a railroad supervisor said employees were required to wear seat belts when driving a hydraulic rail following two accidents where they were not worn, including one that resulted in death.
Mr Monohon, a railroad inspector, objected to the rule, saying if a train comes down the tracks and there is not enough time to remove the seat belt “you will get killed. “.
Later that day, Mr Monohon was found driving a hy-rail without a seatbelt and a subsequent disciplinary hearing led to his dismissal.
Mr Monohon brought a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Des Moines, alleging that BNSF violated the Federal Rail Safety Act when it fired him for reporting a dangerous safety situation in good faith.
After a four-day trial, a jury awarded Mr. Monohon $ 500,000 in lost wages, benefits and damages due to emotional distress. The court awarded Mr. Monohon $ 301,734 as well as legal fees and costs.
The BNSF then filed a motion for a legal judgment, which the district court granted, concluding that Mr. Monohon’s report was not objectively reasonable and that the jury’s verdict was not supported by the evidence.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court overturned the judgment in favor of BNSF, quashed the order granting his motion for trial as a question of law, and remanded the case for restoration of the verdict of jury.
“We find that there was a ‘legally sufficient basis of evidence to’ support the jury’s conclusion,” the ruling said.
Based on the evidence, “we cannot conclude that there was” a complete lack of evidence “such that no reasonable juror could have concluded that the wearing of the seat belt during the hy -railing is a dangerous security condition, ”he said.
There was also sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the supervisor intentionally retaliated against Mr. Monohon, according to the ruling.
Lawyers handling the case did not respond to requests for comment.
In March, the US Department of Labor ordered the BNSF to pay more than $ 290,000 in damages for the dismissal of a worker following his workplace accident.