Injured Railroad Worker Receives $5.3 Million Verdict Against Metra in Train Accident

Langdon & Emison Partner Brett Emison leads trial team during five-week jury trial

A Cook County, Illinois jury awarded Christopher Cravatta $5.3 million in a unanimous verdict after a five-week trial in Chicago after he sustained devastating injuries while working as an engineer for Metra.  Cravatta sustained an annular tear in his L4-5 disc requiring surgery and was unable to return to work as an engineer after Metra medically disqualified him from the job.  He was injured when he slipped on a combination of oil, snow, and ice while stepping from the locomotive to a passenger car at Chicago’s Union Station.

Emison led the team at trial, which also included Ken Barnes of the Barnes Law Firm in Kansas City; Nicholas Cronauer of Burns, Cronauer & Brown in Sycamore, Illinois; and Tim Ocasek of Cooney & Conway in Chicago.

“We told the jury from the very start of trial that everyone – even Metra – must follow the law,” Emison said.  “Railroad safety laws are there to protect everyone:  the public, passengers, and crew members.”

Our trial team proved that Metra violated the Locomotive Inspection Act and Passenger Equipment Safety Standards that required Metra to keep its locomotive and passenger cars free from slipping and tripping hazards including oil, snow and ice. 

Metra contested the case vigorously.  During closing argument, Metra’s lawyer told jurors, “I want you to know before I sit down I don’t agree with these guys about anything as it relates to this case.” 

Photographs after the incident suggested there were several inches of snow and ice on the passenger car at the time Mr. Cravatta was injured.  Reports and letters from the union also showed an ongoing problem of oil accumulating in the locomotive engine room walkway.

“The law is clear.  When you have oil, snow and ice packed in areas like this, Metra is responsible for the harm,” said Barnes.  “Juries are guardians of the community.  Their verdict told Metra that it has to follow the law.”

Brett currently serves as a Board Member of the American Association for Justice and on the Executive Committee of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.  He tries cases across the country on behalf of catastrophically injured clients and their families.

Ken Barnes is the founder of the Barnes Law Firm, LLC.  He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and a long-time railroad employee safety advocate.

Nicholas Cronauer is a partner of Burns, Cronauer & Brown, LLP.  He is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, along with groups devoted to ensuring safety within our communities and equal access to the civil justice system.

Langdon & Emison Participates in Emergency Response Voluntarism

The Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys has continued its Emergency Response program in conjunction with the American Red Cross, counting on volunteers from member firms like Langdon & Emison.  The latest chapter in the disaster relief program has been helping victims from communities affected by recent tornadoes, like Oak Grove, Mo., and much of Boone County.  Langdon & Emison attorney Brennan Delaney was one of the volunteer lawyers onhand in this most recent meeting, following the early March severe weather.

Other examples of MATA disaster relief programs include severe flooding and other natural disasters.  In these instances, MATA members gather in affected communities and offer free legal advice, and also provide volunteer phone bank for people to call in for help.  MATA volunteer members regularly assist citizens in how they can navigate landlord-tenant issues and other legal problems that they might not be used to dealing with.  Since establishing this program with the American Red Cross, other state trial lawyer associations have implemented similar programs.  Langdon & Emison remains a proud sponsor of MATA volunteer programs and community service initiatives.

MATA volunteer members in Oak Grove, Mo., last week for assistance with tornado-related damage.

MATA volunteer members in Oak Grove, Mo., last week for assistance with tornado-related damage.

Wall Street Journal: Trucker Shortage is Expected to Worsen

The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth article on the nation's shortage of truck drivers.  It has often been reported that the companies that manage and employ drivers cause perpetually high turnover among truck drivers.  This leads to unsafe drivers behind the wheels of big rigs.  

Driver fatigue is one of the main causes of accidents on today's highways with tractor-trailers.  Langdon & Emison has represented individuals injured in truck accident cases from coast-to-coast.  

Even those working as employees have a hard time making ends meet, partly because they are only paid for the miles they drive, not time waiting to load and unload their rigs or sitting in traffic. (...)  The industry could fix its labor shortage by raising pay enough to compensate for the hardships of the job or improving the terms for independent contractors.
— Quote from Wall Street Journal article, March 8, 2017

Takata Pleads Guilty in Airbag Case

Takata has finally pleaded guilty to deceiving automakers about the safety of its airbags. This week's guilty plea by Takata in federal court, as well as the new accusations against automakers in a separate lawsuit, show that legal proceedings in the airbag scandal continue to move forward.

Takata agrees to pay $1 billion to settle criminal charges over its defective airbags.

Takata agrees to pay $1 billion to settle criminal charges over its defective airbags.

To date, more than 13 million airbags have been replaced, according to the latest update from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  That is only a small portion of the approximately 65 million to 70 million Takata airbags that have been installed in 42 million cars.

Takata agreed to plead guilty and pay $1 billion in penalties to settle criminal charges that it knowingly sold millions of defective airbags to automakers, causing deaths and serious injuries.

The gas used to inflate the Takata airbags was cheaper than what other airbag makers used, but it was also much more unstable and caused numerous explosions that sent shards of metal at the victims.  

 

Langdon & Emison Supports Missouri Special Olympics

The Lexington Minutemen Special Athletes will participate in the Special Olympics Missouri State Games March 17-19, and businesses from the area are showing their support.  Langdon & Emison is one of the groups who is supporting the Special Athletes program with a gift to their trip to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., for the state Games.

The bowling and basketball teams for the Lexington Minutemen Special Athletes just wrapped up their respective seasons.  The bowling team's athletes each finished the regular season with either a gold or silver medal. 

Additional sponsors can find out about how to contribute by contacting Melissa Rogers at 660-259-4341.  Congrats to our local athletes, and good luck!

Bair Hugger MDL Surpasses 1,000 Mark

Langdon & Emison continues to accept potential cases on behalf of patients who suffered serious infections after a knee, hip or other joint replacement surgery. These lawsuits over 3M Bair Hugger blankets allege the device, which is used in hospitals across the country, exposed patients to contaminated air from the operating room, causing MRSA, sepsis and other serious infections.