Articles Posted in Crane Accidents

Lee Newsome sustained a serious injury to his right foot when a rail hanging from a crane fell on him. He was working for the Wisconsin Central Railroad. Newsome sued the railroad under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claiming that his injuries caused him a “loss of future earning capacity.” Wisconsin Central moved for partial summary judgment on Newsome’s loss of future earning capacity, arguing that the evidence did not support his claim. The U.S. Magistrate Judge handling this case denied Wisconsin Central’s motion, holding that there was a fact question for the jury.  According to the Magistrate Judge’s decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the FELA allows for the awarding of damages for impairment of earning capacity.

“The FELA is a broad remedial statute to be construed liberally in order to effectuate its purpose. In addition to compensation for pain and suffering, the FELA allows damages for economic harms such as loss of past and future wages and impairment of earning capacity that result from injury.” Grunenthal v. Long Island RR Co., 393 U.S. 156, 160-62 (1968).”

There were no 7th Circuit Court of Appeals cases for the Magistrate Judge to rely on. However, there were other federal circuit court cases that stated that proofs necessary to recover future loss of earning capacity is allowed in the FELA context.

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Robert Howard was a 55-year-old truck driver when he arrived at a Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. facility to transport steel machine equipment. His flatbed tractor trailer was directed to a loading area where a Nucor employee was operating the crane to be used for loading the equipment onto Howard’s flatbed truck.

The Nucor employee positioned the load parallel to and partially above the trailer. While Howard attempted to place wood dunnage, a securing device, into the proper position on the trailer, the Nucor employee unexpectedly moved the 50,000-pound load, causing it to strike the dunnage. This forced Howard off the trailer. He suffered a compression fracture to his left heel bone as a result of his fall.

Howard underwent surgery and continues to have problems with mobility and pain. He has not returned to his job, in which he has been paid $22,600 per year. He has incurred medical expenses of about $46,000.

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