On Thursday, a federal appellate court ordered the reinstatement of a $ 500,000 jury reward for a fired railroad worker and changed the judge's ruling in favor of the railroad, in a case that revolved around a safety issue.
Focus of the decision. of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. Louis is the Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF Railway Co.'s rule regarding a hy-rail, a pickup that can be run on both sidewalks and railroad tracks, according to the judgment in Daniel Monohon v. BNSF Railway Co.  During a conference call in September 2012, a railway manager said that employees had to wear seat belts when driving a hy-rail after two accidents where they had not been used, including one that resulted in a death.
Mr. Monohon, a railway inspector, protested against the rule, saying that if a train comes down the tracks and there is not enough time to take off the seat belt "you will be killed."
Later that day, Mr. Monohon was found riding a seat belt without a seat belt and a subsequent disciplinary hearing led to his termination.
Mr. Monohon brought an action before the U.S. District Court in Des Moines, claiming that the BNSF had violated the Federal Rail Safety Act when it released him for reporting in good faith on a dangerous safety permit.
After a four-day trial, a jury awarded Mr. . Monohon $ 500,000 in lost wages, lost benefits and emotional distress. The court sentenced Mr. Monohon $ 301
BNSF then filed a claim for judgment under the law, which the district court granted, and concluded that Mr. Monohon's report was not objectively reasonable and that the jury's judgment was not supported by the evidence.
A panel of three judges in the Court of Appeal overturned the verdict in BNSF's favor, changed the order granting its claim for judgment and remanded the jury's case.  "We conclude that there was" legally sufficient evidence to support "the jury's conclusion," the judgment said.
Given the evidence, "we cannot conclude that there was" a complete absence of proving facts "so that no reasonable jury member could have found that wearing a seat belt is a dangerous safety condition while hy-railing is a dangerous safety condition. Mr. Monohon, said the verdict.
Lawyers in the case did not respond to requests for comment.
In March, the US Department of Labor ordered the BNSF to pay more than $ 290,000 in damages for dismissing a worker after his work-related injury.