Heyl Royster



Appellate Court Affirms Firm’s Summary Judgment for BNSF


Heyl Royster lawyers represented BNSF Railway Company in the Circuit Court of McDonough Co., IL and the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District, in a FELA case. The trial court granted summary judgment for the railroad and the appellate court affirmed. Before that, the defense was successful at having the lawsuit transferred to McDonough County on a contested motion to transfer for intra-state forum non conveniens. Plaintiff claimed he sustained severe and permanent injuries to his foot, shoulder, and body while stepping off a railroad truck during work. Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that “… defendant failed to provide plaintiff with a safe place to work by having large rocks or debris in the yard compound which prevented plaintiff from having secure footing while exiting the truck.” The plaintiff’s supervisor’s report taken on the day of the alleged injury disclosed that “[Plaintiff] says he didn’t step on anything or twist his ankle, only he had a sharp pain which caused his right foot to give way …”. The defense presented additional evidence from witnesses and treating physicians that showed a complete lack of evidence that supported the plaintiff’s theory that he was injured in whole or in part because he stepped on a large rock and that he had not stepped on any rock at all. In granting summary judgment, the trial court noted there was no evidence that there were large rocks in the yard, “nor that that an illusory large rock caused (Plaintiff’s) injury.” The defense also proved that there was no causal relationship between the incident and the plaintiff’s claimed shoulder and body injuries. In affirming the trial court, the appellate court ruled that “… plaintiff failed to establish a question of material fact concerning defendant’s negligence in not using reasonable care to ensure plaintiff a safe work environment.”

Rich Sikes, Tom Dluski, and Steve Heine represented BNSF on behalf of Heyl Royster. The case is Kreps, Special Representative of the Estate of Arenz v. BNSF, 2018 IL App (3d) 170553-U.