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Philadelphia County, PA

The plaintiff was a 20-year-old male in training to be a lineman with the defendant Amtrak. The plaintiff brought this action against the defendant under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), alleging that the defendant failed to provide a safe workplace, causing the plaintiff to sustain a permanent shoulder injury. The defendant denied that the plaintiff was injured as a result of the incident in question.

The plaintiff had climbed a 90-foot traction pole, an I-beam pole similar to a telephone pole used to carry the electric lines that power the railroad. He was standing on a cross-arm at the top of the pole to perform work. The cross-arm extends horizontally from the pole and holds the ceramic insulators to which the electric lines are attached. Hand lines are used by workers atop the pole to raise and lower tools, and the hand lines are tied off to the cross arm.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendant failed to manage one of the hand lines which was left unattended and dangling from the cross arm in the early morning hours of October 12, ________. As a result, the plaintiff claimed that the hand line caught on a passing train and caused a violent shaking of the railroad traction pole and cross-arm, on which the plaintiff was standing. The plaintiff contended that he grabbed onto the traction pole for stability, and suffered a shoulder injury as a result, and contended that there is always supposed to be a worker on the ground tending to the hand line to make sure it does not get caught up in a passing train. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant failed to provide adequate manpower to manage the hand lines, the site lacked adequate lighting, and that there was no proper supervision.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with scapulothoracic dissociation of his dominant right shoulder with related injury to the spinal accessory nerve which enervates the trapezius muscle. The plaintiff underwent a triple muscle transfer surgery to compensate for the dysfunctional trapezius. His physician reported that the plaintiff suffered a permanent arm and shoulder disability as a result of the incident, and that he is now limited to lifting 20 pounds or less.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s shoulder condition, and need for surgery, was not related to the incident in question. According to the defense, medical records showed that the plaintiff had voiced right shoulder complaints some eight months before the subject accident.The case was settled for $________, just after opening statements were concluded.

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