Kennedy vs. Canadian Pacific Railroad
In April of 2013 a Minnesota Jury awarded CP/Soo Line Conductor Sean Kennedy$3,646,277.00 for injuries and losses he sustained while working in the CP’s LaCrosse Wisconsin yard. Sean was working a run from Minnesota City, Minnesota, to Portage, Wisconsin. While in route, the crew had to stop and set out a number of cars in the east end of the LaCrosse yard. Kennedy was hurt while riding the point of a shove in this dark section of the CP’s yard. His shove cornered a cut of cars he had just set out on an adjacent track. At Impact, the side of car he was riding derailed and fell on Sean causing him significant internal injuries. The Railroad claimed it was 100% Sean’s fault and refused to seriously negotiate to a resolution. After 9 days of trial and over 20 plus witnesses the Jury did find both parties at fault, but also found Sean’s argument that the Railroad violated a Safety Statute to be persuasive resulting in 100% liability on the railroad.Sean’s contributory negligence was abrogated by the Railroad’s Safety Rule violation and Sean was awarded the full $3,646,277.00.
But the story doesn’t end there. CP was not happy with this result and appealed the verdict on a number of grounds including the application of the Safety Statute, in essence the RR said the jury messed up and the case had to be retried or at the very least the verdict had to be reduced by the 60% fault found on Sean by the Jury. Chris Moreland, a FELA Attorney previously with the Bremseth Law Firm spearheaded Sean’s Appellate representation. Extensive briefing by both the high priced Attorneys hired by CP and Chris Moreland culminated in Oral arguments to the Appellate Court in November 2014. The Appellate Court drilled both the CP lawyer and Chris on all the complex FELA issues presented. After reviewing all the briefing and considering the oral arguments of respective Counsel, The Minnesota Court of Appeals in February of 2015 unanimously rejected the CP’s arguments and affirmed the Jury’s verdict in its entirety, further awarding costs and interest on the award for a total recovery of $4,207,660.53.
This is a perfect example of how extremely helpful and valuable the FELA can be when understood and presented properly by knowledgeable counsel. On the appeal, attorney Chris Moreland masterfully defended Sean’s verdict forcing the railroad to finally face its responsibility to the Kennedy’s. Sound and professional advocacy coupled with a wonderful and deserving client resulted in justice accomplished so that Sean and his family can move on with their lives.