Lawsuit: Norfolk Southern Has Pattern of Firing Employees Who Suffer, Report Injuries
By Richard N. Shapiro, Norfolk, VA FELA Plaintiff’s Attorney
Working from offices located less than 9 miles from the headquarters of Norfolk Southern and having represented injured and ill railroad employees and retirees for nearly 25 years, I pay very close attention to news and legal proceedings involving the third-largest Class I railroad in the United States.
Consequently, it did not surprise me when I learned from the Beaver County (PA) Times that two former NS employees have filed a whistleblower and wrongful termination lawsuit, claiming that Norfolk Southern has engaged in “an ongoing pattern of covering up work-related accidents by falsely accusing employees of lying and then firing them.” According to legal papers, the men lost their jobs after one had the tips of several fingers amputated while he was working with unfamiliar equipment he had not been trained to use. The other person reported the incident to his supervisor, was charged with lying and let go. The railroad blamed the on-the-job injury on employee error and accused the reporting co-worker of intentionally misstating facts.
An attorney working with the men who had been employed by NS at a rail yard in Coway, Pennsylvania, wrote that Norfolk Southern’s own data on employment actions show that the railroad has a history of dismissing workers “for being the one injured … or merely for truthfully stating the facts they observed as a witness.”
I do not know enough about the current lawsuit to comment on whether the plaintiffs’ claims can be sustained in court. However, I have practiced FELA and railroad injury law long enough to know that rail companies will do just about anything to deny or limit their liability when engineers, conductors, trackmen and trainmen suffer on-the job injuries. I know that railroads are not above intimidating workers into not reporting accidents in rail yards, on trains and along tracks. CSX has faced such allegations, and in 2010, Amtrak was ordered to pay a woman whom a court determined the passenger railroad had fired in retaliation for reporting an injury.
If Norfolk Southern has been adding financial insults to physical injuries by forcing rail employees out of their jobs after they get hurt, I hope the mistreated workers receive the lost wages and monetary damage awards they were originally denied.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton is an injury law firm whose attorneys have long histories of representing railroad workers in FELA and other railroad injury cases. Attorneys will our firm have served as chairmen of the Railroad section of the American Association for Justice. One of our attorneys wrote a major attorney’s encyclopedia section on railroad safety litigation. Check out our railroad injury case results to see for yourself. Our offices are in Virginia Beach and Hampton, Virginia (VA), and Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC). Our lawyers also hold licenses to practice in South Carolina (SC), West Virginia (WV), Kentucky (KY), Florida (FL) and Washington, DC, and have handled hundreds of railroad injury and FELA cases throughout the eastern United States. Rick Shapiro and James Lewis were included in the 2011 issue of Best Lawyers in America. They, along with fellow attorney John M. Cooper, were also named 2011 Virginia Super Lawyers for Personal Injury Law, an honor which fewer than 5 percent of outstanding lawyers receive. We would like to send you one of our FREE reports about railroad injury and FELA cases, such as Dos and Don’ts When Injured at a Railroad — Yours FELA Rights and What Railroad Claim Agents Won’t Tell You (But You Must Know). We provide free initial confidential injury case consultations, so call us toll free at (800) 752-0042 before giving any statement or talking to a railroad claims agent. Our injury attorneys also host an extensive injury law video library on Youtube. Further, our lawyers proudly moderate the Yardlimits Railroad Community Forum and donate to the Fallen Brother Fund.