A federal appeal court has restored the refusal made by a railway worker on the basis of an incorrect jury instruction.
Michael Frost, a rail worker for Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF, attended two incidents where he was accused of the "fouling" railroad or approaching the track, according to Wednesday's 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal judgment in San Francisco in Michael A. Frost v BNSF Railway Co.
] At the first event, a train that traveled about 60 miles per hour failed, free frost. He claimed that others had also been close to the track but received a 30-day suspension. He later filed a raising complaint under the Federal Railroad Safety Act with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
After a second incident involving parking his truck with the rear overhanging track, he was released but later resumed. He nevertheless brought trial against the railroad under the FRSA, and abrogated the first event.
Upon trial in Missoula, Montana, the judge said the jury could not be held liable under the FRSA if it closed Frost "based on its honest belief that the plaintiff was engaged in the conduct he was disciplined of." The judge ruled the BNSF service.
A three judge's appeal court unanimously held Mr Frost's right to a new trial based on the judge's jury instruction. According to the FRSA, it was possible for Frost to show retaliation, even though the BNSF had an honest, legitimate belief that he fouled the track, they said.
"Frost was not obliged to show that his injury mark was only cause or that no other factors influenced BNSF's decision to terminate him," it says.
"The instruction may have urged the jury to postpone the issue and wrongly focus on whether discipline was justified for Frost's security breach rather than whether his protected behavior "somehow" has the decision to terminate him, "the court said in citing an earlier case and ordering a new trial. [1