ST. LOUIS — Union Pacific Railroad has been granted summary judgment in a case brought by an injured signal foreman who claims injuries from moving a generator from a depot in Scott City to a signal cabinet.
Michael Holloway sued in 2015 on six grounds, claiming the railroad failed to provide a reasonably safe place to work and safe equipment, failed to properly train and failed to warn of dangers, among other allegations.
According to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri's July 13 decision, Holloway hurt his back in the process of moving a generator on Dec. 17, 2012. He was first told in June or July 2012 to move three generators that were held in a depot because they contained gas and should not be stored in an occupied building.
When he was reminded to move them on Dec. 13, 2012, Holloway took it upon himself to move one of the three on Dec. 17, 2012, "because he was worried about being disciplined, and he wanted to be able to say that he had at least started on the task of moving the generators," according to the court's decision.
He proceeded to use a pallet as a makeshift ramp to get the first generator onto the bed of his pickup truck, and then proceeded to take it to a signal cabinet for storage where he unloaded it by sliding it out of his pickup and dropped it on the ground. As he squatted down to lift and drag the generator into the cabinet, he felt pain in his back, according to the court filing.
During the course of litigation, Union Pacific moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was not negligent in any respect and that the injury was not reasonably foreseeable and, therefore, not actionable.
In granting summary judgment to the railroad, the court held that Holloway made "all decisions" on how the generator was going to be moved.
"Before his incident, [the] plaintiff had moved generators by himself, and he did so without injuring himself," the court said in its decision. "[The] plaintiff believed he could move the generator safely on the day of his incident, just as he had done in the past. According to plaintiff, '...I've moved generators before by myself, I didn't see any reason I couldn't move it at this time by myself... I didn't see any reason that it would be different this time.'"