Former BNSF employee awarded $1.9 million

CNJ staff

A Texas jury found BNSF Railway negligent Friday and awarded $1.9 million to a Clovis man for back injuries sustained working for the company.

James Phillips’ award came following a four-week trial held in Fort Worth, Texas, in which the 30-year railroad employee made a case that degenerative disc disease in his mid- and lower-back was the result of working on poorly maintained locomotives with inadequate seats, according to a press release from his attorney, Fred Bremseth.

After 20 years of his career spent as an engineer working trains between Clovis and Belen, Phillips received surgeries for the issues and was told by his doctor in 2005 he could no longer work as an engineer, forcing him to resign before completing the final 10 years of his career, the release said.

The jury found BNSF was negligent and had violated the inspection and safety laws governing railroad operation, causing Phillips’ injuries and disability, the release said.

BNSF spokesman Joseph Faust said Tuesday the company rejects the jury’s findings.

“We do not believe the operation of locomotives caused Mr. Phillip’s injuries,” he said via e-mail.

“There were numerous errors in the conduct of the trial and we intend to pursue post-trial motions or an appeal.”