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Jury returns multimillion-dollar verdict in favor of railroad worker injured at Havelock Yard

January 18, 2019

A Lancaster County jury returned a multimillion-dollar verdict Wednesday in favor of a Lincoln railroad worker who lost part of his foot and later his left leg below the knee after an injury at BNSF Railway’s Havelock Yard in 2014.

Jimmy Rohr Jr., who still works for BNSF as a carman, will get $3,485,000 of the $7,112,071 verdict after it was reduced by 51 percent, the percentage the jury deemed him responsible for what happened.

At the trial in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act case that started Jan. 7, attorneys for the railroad contended Rohr was fully responsible, and Rohr’s attorneys contended the railroad was.

FELA exclusively governs railroad workers in the U.S., not workers’ compensation laws.

Jeff Chod, one of two Denver attorneys who represented Rohr, said Rohr was left with massive injuries to his left foot on Feb. 22, 2014, while sorting empty rail cars from a coal train that needed repair.

He said Rohr was setting a handbrake on the end car of nine cars when five more collided with them, one rolling over his left foot in his steel-toe boot.

The cars each weigh about 49,000 pounds.

Rohr was left with open fracture injuries that led to 13 surgeries, including a mid-foot amputation and, after medical complications, the amputation of his left leg below the knee.

On Tuesday, the jury heard closing arguments and, after deliberating for about eight hours, returned Wednesday at 1 p.m. with its verdict.

Reached by phone late Wednesday afternoon, Chod said his client’s injuries were catastrophic, but he overcame tremendous odds and returned to work in October 2015.

“Mr. Rohr’s been through a very challenging, life-altering process, having to learn to live with his new normal,” the attorney said.

But, Chod said, the 38-year-old is optimistic for the future and plans on staying at BNSF as long as he’s physically able to do the work.

It’s too early to tell if there will be an appeal in the case.

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