IADC member J.T. Wilson III, a partner with Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, and fellow associate Elizabeth Duncan Brewer earned an impressive outcome at trial for a railroad client last week in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff—a railroad police offer—alleged negligence by the railroad after he suffered a torn distal bicep tendon while going through training to use a new expandable police baton. He missed nine months of work and asked for damages north of ten times his annual salary.
With the officer’s trainers as witnesses, Wilson and Brewer ably communicated to the jury that the two batons the officer used that day were not faulty, did not cause the injury and that the officer himself should be held largely responsible for his injury.
“He had his own duty to inspect the black baton before use,” Wilson said. “He had it for a year-and-a-half before the date in question. His injury had nothing to do with the black baton he was originally given.”
The officer claimed the injury occurred while using the black baton (the device he claimed was not properly inspected by the railroad) and that it gradually progressed over the course of the day, while he was using the replacement baton provided on site.
“It’s his duty to tell someone he is hurt,” Wilson said. “If it’s getting worse, why didn’t he stop? Why didn’t he tell someone?”
Because of Wilson and Brewer’s adept work in the courtroom, the jury awarded the officer a fraction of his initial request, then reduced that amount by 75 percent as a result of his own contributory negligence, meaning the jurors decided the officer was 75 percent responsible for his injury, attributing only a quarter of the blame to the railroad client.
“Although there was no desire to see one of its employees injured, the client is pleased with the overall outcome at trial,” Wilson said. “This is a notable achievement for Dinsmore, for our civil justice system, and for the defense of claims brought under the Federal Employers Liability Act.”