Heyl Royster



Victories for BNSF Railway


Steve Heine and Tom Dluski successfully represented BNSF Railway Company at trial in case that was brought under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), and tried to a defense verdict in state court in Galesburg, Illinois on August 29. In the underlying incident, the plaintiff, a BNSF machine operator, claimed he injured his neck while operating an end-loader to move 20-30 pieces of rail from one side of the tracks to the other. The plaintiff alleged his injury resulted in his undergoing a two-level discectomy and spinal fusion. Plaintiff argued at trial that the operating procedures in place at the time of his injury were improper, and, based on other prior events, BNSF should have known to instruct him to perform the task differently. In defense, BNSF called a biomechanical engineer to refute the way the injury allegedly happened, and presented testimony, including from a former Director of Maintenance for another railroad, that the equipment was safe, appropriate for the task, and consistent with industry practices.

In another recent victory for BNSF, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court's grant of Summary Judgment in the case of Brown v. BNSF. In doing so, the appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling that excluded the plaintiff's expert testimony based on the finding that it failed to follow any reliable methodology in making a determination regarding causation. Steve Heine, Michele Lindsey, Shari Berry and Craig Unrath represented BNSF.