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Memphis Jury Returns Defense Verdict for Railroad
On July 24, 2017, and after six days of trial, a Memphis jury returned a verdict in favor of the railroad in a lawsuit filed by an employee under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. Plaintiff claimed he hurt his low back and chest when his foot slipped from the sill step of a railroad tank car while dismounting due to the unexpected approach of a train on an adjacent track. Plaintiff also claimed the step likely had oil on it, he was working in an area with poor lighting, and he claimed the area where he dismounted had a steep embankment. Defendant denied these claims and asserted that it had provided the employee with a reasonably safe place to work at all times during his employment.
After the alleged incident on December 23, 2008, Plaintiff treated briefly for a chest contusion and treated for years for low back complaints. Plaintiff never returned to work as a conductor. He stayed out of the work force approximately 7.5 years allegedly as a result of the incident. Ultimately, he returned to work for the railroad as a crew hauler in year 2016. Defendant offered the testimony of a vocational expert at trial to establish Plaintiff could have worked in other jobs during the time he was unemployed.
At trial, the Plaintiff conceded that the alleged substance on the sill step could have been oil, rain, dew, or some other substance. The railroad also argued at trial that, even if oil had been present on the sill step, the railroad did not have notice of an unreasonably unsafe condition. Defendant established at trial that the tank car had no defects and was in compliance with all federal regulations when inspected hours after the alleged incident. Also, Plaintiff offered medical evidence at trial that his alleged fall at work caused or contributed to his injuries. Defendant relied primarily on the cross-examination of Plaintiff's treating physicians to establish a long history of treatment for low back complaints for years prior to the alleged fall.
Plaintiff's counsel suggested to the jury damages in the amount of $735,000 ($535,000 in lost wages and $200,000 in pain and suffering damages) during closing arguments. During deliberations, the jury had two questions. First, the jury wanted clarity on the definition of "fault." More particularly, the jury wanted to know if they had to find both negligence and causation. The court properly informed the jury that both were necessary. Second, the jury wanted to hear the definition of "causation" again. The court read to the jury the following portion of the jury charge in response to the second question: "The second part of fault is causation. The person’s negligence must have caused or contributed, in whole or in part, in the slightest way, Plaintiff’s injury or damage."
The jury returned a defense verdict for the railroad. The Honorable Felicia Corbin-Johnson presided over the trial. The railroad was represented by Camille Reifers and John Bennett.
Boyle Brasher Scores Appellate Win Affirming Defense Verdict
On June 1, 2017, the Illinois Court of Appeals, Fifth District affirmed the defense verdict obtained by co-counsel Jonathan Freed of Paducah, Kentucky and Boyle Brasher attorney Mark Favazza in a legal malpractice suit against their clients. At trial, plaintiff lost in the first stage of the bifurcated proceedings—the "case-within-a-case." Among other holdings, the appellate court held, as we argued in our brief, that plaintiff forfeited the right to appeal all evidentiary issues at trial because of a deficient post-trial motion. To top off the victory, the appellate court also held that defendants were entitled to have the court costs incurred in two prior trials which resulted in hung juries taxed against plaintiff.
Camille Reifers Achieves Board Certification in Civil Trial Law By The National Board Of Trial Advocacy
Boyle Brasher founding member Camille Reifers has successfully achieved Board Certification as a civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy ("NBTA"). The NBTA was formed out of a strong conviction that both the law profession and its clients would benefit from an organization designed specifically to create an objective set of standards illustrating an attorney's experience and expertise in the practice of trial law.
Ms. Reifers successfully completed a rigorous and elaborate screening of credentials that all NBTA board certified attorneys must complete, including: demonstration of substantial trial experience, submission of judicial and peer references to attest to her competency, attendance of continuing legal education courses, submission of legal writing documents, proof of good standing, and passing of an examination.
Board Certification is the highest, most stringent, and most reliable honor an attorney can achieve. Approximately three percent of American lawyers are board certified, and Ms. Reifers is a member of a very select group who has taken the time to prove competence in their specialty area and earn board certification.
Boyle Brasher Attorney obtains A/V Rating from Martindale Hubbell
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ are the most established standard in attorney ratings, and have been for more than a century. Attorney Andrew Corkery has received the rating of AV Preeminent® which is the highest peer rating standard. According to Martindale-Hubbell guidelines this rating signifies that the lawyer's reviewed peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards. Mr. Corkery’s ratings and reviews
Boyle Brasher has 5 other A/V rated attorneys.
Appeals court affirms St. Joe Smoking Ordinance/Missouri Lawyers Media
On January 2, 2015 Ralph Godsy, Boyle Brasher Partner, obtained summary judgment on all counts for a BBLLC client facing a Premises Liability claim in Madison County, Illinois. The plaintiff claimed that water on an interior stairway caused her to slip and fall. She claimed the business owner was negligent for failing to remove the water and/or for failing to warn of its presence. She claimed that as a consequence of this negligence she suffered an ankle fracture that required surgery resulting in economic damages - lost wages and the cost of medical treatment - and non-economic damages - pain, suffering, and disfigurement. In his motion for summary judgment, Ralph argued that as the water had been tracked inside on the shoes and clothes of persons walking through the snow on the parking lot, the business owner was shielded from liability under Illinois' "Natural Accumulation" rule. Ralph further argued that his client was entitled to summary judgment under contract law because, prior to the incident, the plaintiff had voluntarily signed an informed consent/liability waiver and release form that specifically referred to slip and fall injuries at the facility. No appeal was filed.
Plaintiff v. Railroad.
Boyle Brasher LLC attorneys Charlie Swartwout and Andy Corkery obtained a dismissal with prejudice in a case brought by a man who was struck by a train at or near a railroad crossing in Central Illinois. The incident resulted in three limb amputations. Plaintiff alleged the incident was the railroad's fault and that the defendant railroad was negligent for travelling too fast, failing to keep a lookout, failing to sound a warning, and failing to avoid striking the plaintiff. After filing motions to dismiss and taking plaintiff's deposition the case was dismissed with prejudice by the trial judge in Champaign County, Illinois.
Illinois Jury Returns Defense Verdict for Boyle Brasher Client in Railroad Grade Crossing Case
BBLLC attorneys, Dick Boyle and Jim Garrison, obtained a defense verdict for a national railroad company client on July 16, 2014 in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of a 71-year old woman who was unfortunately fatally injured when the car she was in was struck at a grade crossing by the Defendant's train.
According to Plaintiff, the decedent's car got stuck on the tracks after she moved off the roadway to avoid a tractor-trailer on the roadway. At trial, the Plaintiff's estate argued that the train crew could see her car on the crossing from nearly one mile away, a distance far enough to reduce the train's speed and avoid a collision. However, the defense team was able to demonstrate through fact and expert witnesses that it was not possible for the train crew to see the decedent's vehicle in time to avoid the collision.
Following a five day trial, a Western Illinois jury returned a verdict for the railroad.
Defense Verdict in Missouri
On April 20, 2014 Boyle Brasher obtained a defense verdict for a major transportation company following a four (4) day jury trial in the Circuit Court of Greene County at Springfield, MO before the Honorable Michael Cordonnier. Plaintiff averred claims against the railroad under both the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) alleging that he sustained cumulative trauma injuries to his back and neck from working for the railroad fifteen (15) years as a locomotive engineer. The jury deliberated three (3) hours before returning a verdict in favor of BNSF on both claims.
Summary Judgment Affirmed by Sixth Circuit in Favor of Boyle Brasher Client in Title VII and Equal Pay Act Case
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently affirmed a Memphis federal district court's order awarding summary judgment to a Boyle Brasher client on all claims brought by a former employee under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The plaintiff, who alleged discrimination by her former employer based on sex and age, as well as retaliation, claimed that she had been promoted and not compensated comparably to a male employee to whom she claimed she was similarly situated. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer on all claims asserted by the plaintiff, and the plaintiff appealed. In an opinion on February 27, 2014, the Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in the employer's favor.
Boyle Brasher attorneys obtained dismissal, with prejudice of FELA wrongful death case filed in Seattle, WA with no payment following discovery. Plaintiff alleged lung cancer caused by exposure to toxic substances at work. Diligent discovery revealed other sources of exposure as well as smoking which caused cancer. February 2014.
Boyle Brasher receives an Outstanding advocacy award in 2013
In recognition of outstanding advocacy for 2013, one of Boyle Brasher LLC's Fortune 500 client's is recognizing Charlie Swartwout, Camille Reifers, and their teams at Boyle Brasher LLC as part of an elite group of outside counsel. They could not have had the success they had without the strong support of the claims professionals working alongside. Boyle Brasher LLC is honored to represent such a client.
Andrew Corkery, Camille Reifers, and Charlie Swartwout shared in a wealth of information exchanged at the 2013 AAR General Claims Conference, hosted by CSX in October
Summary Judgment for Railroad Client
The Circuit Court of Shelby County, Tennessee awarded summary judgment in favor of our railroad client in a case filed by a couple who lived adjacent to the railroad track and claimed damages resulting from a flood. Following a flood event in May 2010, Plaintiffs filed suit against the railroad and the City of Memphis. The Plaintiffs alleged that the railroad failed to properly maintain a railroad culvert near their property that drained waters in the vicinity. At the time of his deposition, Plaintiffs' expert witness agreed that the railroad culvert was designed such that it met the modern design standard for the locality of being capable of handling the amount of water anticipated from a 100-year flood event. In fact, the expert agreed that the culvert greatly exceeded even the modern design standard. After establishing compliance with 49 C.F.R. 213.33, the Court held that Plaintiffs' state law theories of negligence were preempted by federal regulation and granted summary judgment in favor of the railroad. Separately, the Court determined that Plaintiffs did not establish any negligence by the railroad was the direct cause of the landowner's damages. The Court granted summary judgment on this basis as well.
Judgment for Railroad Client in a Wrongful Death Case!
Following oral argument of a motion for summary judgment in a wrongful death case which sought both actual and punitive damages, the Circuit Court of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri entered judgment in favor of a Boyle Brasher LLC railroad client and its employees. The judgment was entered on August 8, 2013. The lawsuit involved the death of a teenager struck by the train that occurred on a portion of the railroad's right-of-way that was not in the area of a motor vehicle crossing.
The facts are that, while Plaintiff's son was visiting a park with friends after dark one night, he decided to run into the path of a train and to then suddenly reverse his direction of travel and run again into the path of that same train. On the return trip, he was struck by the train. Plaintiff's petition alleged many theories of negligence against the railroad and its employees. Those theories included, among others, failure to fence the area, to enforce a trespasser-prevention program and to sound a warning of the train's approach.
The accident occurred in an area in which Plaintiff contended that there was a well-worn path to the railroad's right-of-way. Plaintiff argued that the public use exception gave rise to a duty on the part of the railroad to take precautions beyond those typically owed to a trespasser.
The Court proclaimed that:
No duty imposed by statute, regulation, or common law can prevent the death of a man determined to run in front of a train. No action or inaction by Defendants caused the death of Plaintiff's decedent. Defendants should not be exposed to the expense of litigation or the risk of jurors acting out of sympathy for a Plaintiff...."
William Brasher and Zora Manjencich prepared the railroad's motion and attendant pleadings. The motion was argued by Boyle Brasher LLC.
Summary Judgment for Boyle Brasher LLC's Business Client
Plaintiff, a visitor to a mixed-use, riverfront development sued Defendant, a business tenant of the mixed-use development. Defendant represented by Boyle Brasher LLC and other tenants of the development utilized a river access area also owned by the landlord. After the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, Plaintiff fell while at the river access area and suffered displaced fractures including a spiral fracture of the tibia and a fracture of the fibula, as well as knee and ankle injuries for which plaintiff claimed that the access area was not properly maintained resulting in his injuries. An open reduction and internal fixation of the tibia was required. Boyle Brasher LLC filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of the business tenant in this Franklin County, Missouri case. The basis of the motion was the lack of ownership, control and maintenance of the river access area by the Defendant. The state court judge granted summary judgment based on carefully-drafted documents and exhibits that were submitted for consideration--without the need for or expense of oral argument.
Jury Returns Defense Verdict for a Boyle Brasher Client in the City of St. Louis
After five-days of trial in the City of St. Louis beginning on April 1st and ending on April 5th a jury returned a verdict in favor of a Boyle Brasher client being sued for over $1 million dollars.
Plaintiff, a railroad conductor sued his employer for injuries allegedly sustained in three separate on-the-job incidents. Subsequently, plaintiff underwent a lumbar fusion at L4-L5 with internal fixation and a cervical fusion at C3-C4 with internal fixation and did not return to work.
The jury was out for approximately two and a half hours and returned a verdict of no negligence on all three incidents, finding plaintiff 100% at fault. The jury also found no damages in any of the incidents.
Bill Brasher handled the defense of this case on behalf of the railroad.
Boyle Brasher Attorneys Obtain Defense Verdict in Marion County, Missouri
After a week-long trial that included a claim for punitive damages which started April 22, 2013 in the Circuit Court of Marion County at Hannibal, Missouri, the jury returned a verdict for our railroad client.
Plaintiff, age 38, was profoundly injured on March 23, 2007, when he was struck by a train on a bridge in Hannibal, Missouri. The basis for the claim against the railroad was that the train crew should have identified the plaintiff in time to stop or slow the train prior to striking him. Although Plaintiff was called to testify, he was in essence unable to testify given a closed head injury and paralysis that impacted his entire right side which significantly precluded any understandable speech. Plaintiff is mostly confined to a wheel chair but could, with great difficult, ambulate short distances awkwardly and precariously with a quad cane. In addition, plaintiff had bladder and bowel issues, difficulty swallowing and choking issues, painful contractions of his arm and hand, and virtually no use of his right hand, arm and leg. He also sustained fractures of the lumbar and cervical spine, shoulder, clavicle and tibia. Because of his injuries he needs assistance with virtually all activities of daily living including dressing and bathing. The life care plan ranged from $1.8M to $5.6M. Past medical expenses were approximately $460K.
After two and a half hours of deliberation the jury determined that the railroad client was not at fault and that plaintiff was 100% at fault. Bill Brasher tried the case for the railroad.
Boyle Brasher Attorney Successfully Defends FELA Lawsuit
A St. Clair County jury returned a defense verdict in favor of a Boyle Brasher client and against a plaintiff in an FELA case. Plaintiff claimed a severe knee injury when, at the age of 51, he allegedly tripped over debris on railroad property in 2004. Plaintiff claimed the yard was unsafe and that defendant was aware of the unsafe condition prior to the injury. Plaintiff had not worked since that date and was disqualified from returning to railroad work by a physician. Plaintiff had right total knee replacement. Plaintiff's attorney asked for $700,000 in lost wages and over $1,000,000 in total damages.
Charlie Swartwout and Andy Corkery of our Belleville office successfully countered plaintiff's account of the incident by putting on co-worker testimony that the yard was not full of debris and tripping hazards. In addition, defense counsel secured medical testimony that plaintiff had end-stage osteoarthritis and that he would have needed a total knee replacement regardless of the alleged incident. Charlie and Andy also introduced testimony regarding the vocational rehabilitation program that was available to plaintiff which plaintiff failed to avail himself of.
Congratulations to Charlie Swartwout and Andy Corkery on another defense verdict.
Attorney to Judge Odyssey of the Mind Competition
In March attorney Jim Garrison will be participating as a judge at the Odyssey of the Mind competition at O'Fallon Township High School in O'Fallon, Illinois. Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program. Jim's son, Rob, is a teacher at OTHS, and is the faculty coordinator and OTHS team advisor for the program.
Defense Verdict for Railroad Client in a Wrongful Death Case!
On February 22, 2013, Camille Reifers, Thom Peters, and Brooks Kostakis obtained a defense verdict for a railroad client after a jury trial in a wrongful death case filed involving an employee of a granary serviced by the railroad.
The facts are that the railroad delivered empty railcars for loading as requested by the granary. The granary owned a railcar mover designed to move railcars, but the railcar mover was inoperable. Thereafter, the manager of the granary decided to move seven of the railcars with a front-end loader. In order to stop the railcars, the decedent was expected to run alongside the railcars, mount the moving equipment, and turn the handbrake.
During the movement of the cars, two-cars separated from five other cars. When that occurred, the decedent mounted the brake platform and began turning the handbrake. The five-car cut of cars began traveling faster than the two-car cut of cars due to a descending grade causing the two groups of cars to collide. Unfortunately, the decedent fell from the railcar on which he was riding and was killed when the wheel of a railcar ran over him.
Plaintiff alleged that the coupler of the fifth railcar was defective causing the two groups of cars to become uncoupled. The railroad argued that the actions of the granary, in using a front-end loader, as opposed to a railcar mover, to move railcars was the cause of the accident as well as requiring the decedent to run alongside the cars and mount a moving car. The railroad further argued that the Plaintiff failed to prove that the coupler on the fifth railcar was defective. The jury, after hearing all the evidence, agreed with the railroad.
Camille Reifers, Thom Peters, and Emily Webster had previously won a defense verdict in this case in September 2010. However, a new trial was granted. This was the second time this case had been tried to jury verdict and the second defense verdict in this case by the Boyle Brasher team.
American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell have recognized William Brasher and Boyle Brasher LLC as one of the 2013 Top Rated Lawyers in Health Care, which will be highlighted in the February 2013 issue of The American Lawyer & Corporate Counsel magazine
Boyle Brasher LLC is nationally recognized for its representation of hospitals in claims against insurers seeking reimbursement of disputed hospital bills. Our attorneys represent a national for-profit hospital corporation in multiple jurisdictions asserting the reimbursement claims. More often then not these cases involve claims for reimbursement of very large unpaid hospital bills incurred by patients. Boyle Brasher LLC's attorneys have successfully obtained full reimbursement for its clients and collected multiple millions of dollars in these cases.The firm's attorneys engaged in this practice have been invited to make presentations about this area of practice at meetings and seminars in this country and internationally
Jim Garrison will be speaking at a seminar, Personal Injury 101.
It will be held at the Doubletree Hotel Collinsville on February 22, 2013 from 9:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. It is sponsored by the National Business Institute. If you would like to take advantage of the seminar, you may click here and link will take you to it
Boyle Brasher LLC has been named the Gaming Law Firm of the Year in Missouri by the 2013 Global Law Experts.
Boyle Brasher LLC and William A. Brasher have been listed in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers in 2013
Major Win in Illinois Supreme Court for Boyle Brasher LLC Client
The Illinois Supreme Court issued its much anticipated opinion in favor of a Boyle Brasher LLC railroad client. The case involved a lawsuit filed in Illinois state court by a Mississippi resident, which the railroad moved to dismiss based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The Court ruled 5-1 in favor of the railroad, determining that the case lacked any relevant or practical connection to the State of Illinois. The Court held that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying the railroads motion to dismiss in favor of a Mississippi forum. Congratulations to Thom Peters and Michael Hermann of Boyle Brasher LLC who pursued the appeal in the Illinois appellate and supreme court.
A copy of the opinion, Walter Fennell v. Illinois Central Railroad Company, 2012 IL 113812, can be viewed at www.state.il.us/court.
Boyle Brasher LLC has received a Tier 1 ranking in the 2013 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms"
Best Lawyers in America has listed William Brasher as Best Lawyer for the last fifteen (15) years
Best Lawyers in America has listed Richard Boyle as Best Lawyer since 2007
Boyle Brasher LLC Case in Illinois Supreme Court
Boyle Brasher LLC recently argued in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of one of Boyle Brasher LLC's railroad clients in a case involving the forum non conveniens doctrine in Illinois and specifically in St. Clair County, Illinois. Plaintiff filed a Federal Employers Liability Act case against the railroad in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County in 2009 alleging injuries resulting from exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances.
Boyle Brasher partner and lead counsel Thom Peters filed a motion to dismiss forum non conveniens on the grounds that there was no connection between St. Clair County and the plaintiff employee's claim. The plaintiff worked in the state of Mississippi and any exposure to asbestos or toxic substances, which the railroad steadfastly denies occurred, would have occurred in Mississippi. The Circuit Court of St. Clair County denied the motion to dismiss forum non conveniens, and the Appellate Court for the Fifth District of Illinois in a split decision affirmed the trial court's ruling in January, 2012.
Thom Peters filed a petition for leave to appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court which was granted.
In the Supreme Court the plaintiff/appellee's principal argument was that certain key historical records of the railroad/appellant were located in St. Clair County and could not be moved because of their fragility due to age. He also argued that St. Clair County was an appropriate forum for the case because the railroad is lead counsel's office is located in St. Clair County.
The railroad countered in its briefs that there was no connection or nexus between this case and St. Clair County.
In the Supreme Court Boyle Brasher LLC argued that this is a "classic case of forum shopping". Boyle Brasher LLC argued that there was no nexus between St. Clair County and plaintiff's case. He told the justices that thanks to improved technology the alleged documents could easily be copied and sent across the country electronically. He also argued that if counsel's office location was the most important factor in a forum non conveniens analysis, a firm could open up an office anywhere it believes would be favorable to its clients and claim venue is appropriate because the firm has an office there. They went on to point out to the court that there were at least a dozen witnesses that live in or near Mississippi. He pointed out that allowing the case to proceed in St. Clair County would force Illinois taxpayers to pay the expenses for a trial in the case of a Mississippi resident.
The case had the attention of a large segment of the plaintiff's and defense bar which generated several amicus briefs on the issues presented. No timeline has been set for the Illinois Supreme Court's decision in the case.
Mike Herman assisted in preparation of the pleadings in this case.
Summary Judgment for Railroad Client
The Plaintiff who was an employee of a railroad sued his employer in a FELA case in the Circuit Court of Knox County, Illinois in a three-count complaint alleging two traumatic incidents and one count for cumulative/repetitive injuries sustained as a result of allegedly defective tools and equipment. A Motion for Summary Judgment was filed by Boyle Brasher LLC attorneys Bill Brasher on behalf of the railroad client on all three counts asserting lack of expert testimony on causation and no evidence of foreseeability. Following the Court's granting summary judgment for the railroad on two of the three counts, the railroad was able to reach a favorable settlement with plaintiff. A tip of the hat to Bill.
Boyle Brasher LLC in Missouri Lawyers Weekly Article
A Boyle Brasher LLC court room victory is the subject of a recent article in the Missouri Lawyers Weekly. The article reported that Bill Brasher of Boyle Brasher LLC had successfully defended a railroad client in a civil personal injury jury trial in which the plaintiff, a 17 year old high school girl, suffered significant brain injuries when a car in which she was a passenger collided with a freight train at a railroad grade crossing. The driver of the car drove around a lowered crossing gate and past flashing red warning lights into the path of the approaching train. In the trial Boyle Brasher LLC successfully countered plaintiff's claim that the railroad crew negligently failed to slow the train before the collision. Here is a link to the Missouri Lawyers Weekly article.
Another Memphis Victory
Camille Reifers and Brooks Kostakis of Boyle Brasher LLC's Memphis office have scored another success in early disposition of claims against the firm's clients. Camille and Brooks won a summary judgment motion for one of the firm's railroad clients in an FELA case in which a 35-year old carman alleged accumulative trauma from walking on ballast during his career with the railroad. The trial court, relying on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Nickles v GrandTrunk Western R.R., held that the Secretary of Transportation had substantially subsumed the subject of ballast size through federal regulation and therefore plaintiff's claim against the railroad was preempted. A tip of the hat to Camille and Brooks on a job well done!
NARTC Winter Meeting
BBLLC's Memphis partner Camille Reifers spoke at the recent Winter Meeting of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel. Camille spoke to the conference on "Ballast Claims and Cumulative Trauma Cases". Others attending the meeting from BBLLC were Dick Boyle (Past President, Management Committee, Executive Committee, Bylaws Committee, Nominations Committee). All the BBLLC participants reported that the presentations at this year's Winter Meeting were exceptional both in content and style.
Major Appellate Win for Boyle Brasher LLC Asbestos Group
An Illinois Appellate Court has narrowed the legal duty owed by transporters of potentially hazardous materials to third parties. The Appellate Court of Illinois for the Fourth District at Springfield, Illinois ruled that a railroad that transports products in and out of its consignee's plant has no legal duty to employees of that plant for alleged exposure to the harmful propensities of the transported product regardless of the railroad's knowledge of the risk of injury and the employees' lack of knowledge of the danger. The case specifically concerned the transportation of asbestos. This opinion could significantly impact cases filed utilizing similar theories of transporter liability. The opinion is noteworthy for railroads and other transporters including trucking companies that haul or handle dangerous products or substances.
The railroad was originally sued in multiple cases along with several companies accused of conspiring to suppress information about the dangers of asbestos. The circuit court in which the cases were filed denied the railroad's motions to dismiss based upon lack of duty and preemption under the commerce clause. The Appellate Court issued its opinion favorable to the railroad in response to a question certified by the circuit court to the appellate court concerning whether a railroad owes a duty at law to the plant employees under the facts presented in these cases. Initially, the Appellate Court declined to respond to the certified question. Boyle Brasher LLC attorneys filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court. In response to that petition the Supreme Court issued a supervisory order that directed the Appellate Court to respond to the question certified by the circuit court which led to this decision.
Congratulations to Thom Peters of Boyle Brasher LLC who aggressively handled this important case in the circuit court, appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court
Missouri Supreme Court Rules for Boyle Brasher LLC Client in Discovery Dispute
In the case discussed immediately below, the Missouri Supreme Court has issued a favorable opinion in a discovery dispute involving the discovery of a Plaintiff's psychiatric records, while holding that psychiatric records are normally not discoverable in a personal injury action in which Plaintiff is not claiming any psychiatric or psychological injuries.
The Court held that in this case, the cause or causes of Plaintiff's alleged injuries were in dispute as the Defendant presented evidence that Plaintiff's injuries were caused by Plaintiff's use or abuse of drugs provided by his psychiatrist.
In its opinion the Court held that the Circuit Court abused its discretion in precluding Defendant from discovering the records as "irrelevant" since Plaintiff was not claiming psychiatric or psychological injuries.
Bill Brasher and Tom McDermott participated in the Writ of Mandamus filed with the Supreme Court.
Missouri Supreme Court Considers Discoverability Of Psychiatric Records When Psychiatric Injuries Are Not Claimed In Personal Injury Lawsuit In Case Handled By Boyle Brasher LLC
On November 2, 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in a case handled by Boyle Brasher LLC in which the defendant in a personal injury action sought discovery of plaintiff's psychiatric records when no psychiatric injury was pleaded. The underlying case involves a plaintiff who claims as his injury that he twice lost consciousness while at work and that he sustained injuries including recurring seizures, fainting spells and a seizure disorder. The defenses raised by Boyle Brasher LLC contended that the employee's use, abuse or withdrawal from drugs caused or contributed to cause his injuries and the losses of consciousness. In the underlying case, the firm sought records of a psychiatrist from whom the plaintiff was obtaining drug prescriptions at the time he lost consciousness the second time, but the Circuit Court denied access to those records finding that the records were irrelevant to any injury claimed by the Plaintiff.
Boyle Brasher LLC argued that the Circuit Court abused its discretion in denying access to these psychiatric records since the records could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence which was relevant to the cause of plaintiff's losses of consciousness. The firm also argued that the Circuit Court's ruling was an abuse of discretion because the psychiatric records could contain information pertinent to the cause of the plaintiff's seizures and seizure disorder, his credibility, damages and whether the plaintiff continues to experience pain resulting from the underlying incidents or is engaging in drug seeking behavior.
The Plaintiff's counsel argued that the records are privileged and irrelevant to any issue in the case, since the employee is not claiming a psychiatric or psychological injury. The issue to be decided is whether a plaintiff can preclude the discovery of records of a treating psychiatrist which are relevant or which may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence by disavowing any claim for psychological or psychiatric injuries or damages, including emotional distress, mental anguish or depression.
A recording of the argument may be accessed at:
A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in January 2012.
Bill Brasher and Tom McDermott participated in the proceedings before the Circuit Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
Boyle Brasher LLC's Camille Reifers and her Memphis lawyers and staff have recently taken the idea of "power hitter" to new heights. Claims officials of a Fortune 500 client recently visited the firm's Memphis office and presented Camille and the Memphis attorneys a classic Louisville Slugger baseball bat etched with the accolade " Keep Hittin Em Out of the Park" as a reward for their great work.
Boyle Brasher Attorney gets nine separate cases dismissed
Camille Reifers , leading the Boyle Brasher LLC attorneys in the firm's Memphis, Tennessee office, has achieved a remarkable string of litigation victories and successful results in recent weeks. Camille and her fellow Memphis lawyers, taking an aggressive posture at the earliest stage of each case, obtained dismissal or summary judgment in nine separate FELA occupational cases for two different railroads that resulted in significant savings for both clients. A tip of the hat to Camille and the rest of the Boyle Brasher LLC Memphis team.
Defense Verdict in Railroad Crossing Accident for Boyle Brasher LLC
Bill Brasher obtained a defense verdict in a railroad grade crossing jury trial in which plaintiff sought in excess of $10 million in damages. Plaintiff was a teenage girl who was a front seat passenger in a friend's car that collided with the railroad train who sustained severe brain damage and significant neurological and physical injuries as a result of the collision. At the time of the accident plaintiff and her friend were on their way to their high school in the small community where they lived. The driver of the automobile drove past flashing red lights and around lowered crossing gates that warned of the approach of the train. A video camera on the front of the approaching locomotive recorded the automobile coming around the lowered crossing gate into the path of the train. The locomotive engineer observed the automobile approaching and changed the horn pattern to short horn blasts several seconds prior to the collision but did not brake or attempt to slow the locomotive prior to the collision. Plaintiff argued that the automobile would have cleared the crossing or the severity of the impact would have been reduced if the emergency brakes on the train had been activated earlier than they were when the short whistle blasts began. Bill argued that the train crew had no reason to believe that the driver of the automobile was not going to stop for the flashing lights and lowered gates. Congratulations to Bill Brasher and to the rest of the Boyle Brasher LLC team who contributed to this successful result. The case was tried before jury in the Circuit Court of Wright County Missouri, where plaintiff resided. Plaintiff was represented by Tom Jones and Tim Gaarder of Davis, Bethune & Jones of Kansas City, Missouri.
Appellate Court Affirms Defense Verdict for BBLLC Client
In a decision issued shortly after oral argument, The Appellate Court ruled that no error had been committed by the Circuit Court in the jury trial and affirmed the jury verdict and judgment for Boyle Brasher LLC's client. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District has affirmed a defense verdict obtained by Bill Brasher and Ralph Godsy in an FELA case tried in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County last year. Tom McDermott assisted on the appellate brief along with Ralph Godsy. Ralph Godsy also successfully handled the oral argument in the Court of Appeals.
Summary Judgment for Railroad Client
Mark Kurz obtained a summary judgment for a railroad client when a 59-year old engineer sued for sleep disorder due to work schedule under the FELA. Plaintiff claimed psychological injuries. The Motion for Summary Judgment was based on preemption under the Hours of Service Act and under Gottshall since sleep disorders do not fall within the zone of danger test due to a lack of physical impact.
Jury Verdict for Trucking Client
Ralph Godsy of Boyle Brasher LLC won a jury trial in the U.S. District Court at St. Louis. Ralph represented an interstate trucking company. The case arose out of a serious accident on I-55 outside of St. Louis. A tractor trailer owned and operated by Ralph's client struck a Jeep Cherokee that suddenly entered the interstate. Two passengers in the Jeep sued the trucking company and the driver of the Jeep. The case was complicated by the fact that the driver of the tractor trailer could not be located to testify at trial. After a seven day trial, the jury found in favor of the trucking company and against the driver of the Jeep.
Partner Nominated to Blue Ribbon Committee
Boyle Brasher LLC partner, Thom Peters has been nominated to a blue ribbon study committee by the mayor of the city of Belleville, Illinois. The committee will assess alternatives to the city's current wheel tax. Thom served as an elected member of the Belleville Board of Aldermen for several years while practicing law with a firm that became Boyle Brasher LLC. Thom is known for his hands on practical knowledge and experience with municipal finance, taxation, land use and legislation.
Another Summary Judgment for Railroad Client
The plaintiff, a railroad employee was involved in a motor vehicle accident while being transported from a hotel to the railroad depot. Plaintiff claimed that the railroad negligently caused the accident by failing to find and fix a seatbelt in the vehicle that was allegedly defective. In the summary judgment the trial court held that there was no evidence that the railroad's driver operating the crew transportation vehicle drove in an unsafe manner and also held that the driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision was solely responsible for the accident. The court also found that there was no evidence that supported plaintiff's seatbelt claim. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.