Former conductor claims railroad fired him for seeking work injury treatment

By Amanda Thomas | Jun 10, 2018

A former freight railroad conductor has filed a lawsuit against a Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad Company Inc. after being injured on the job.

A train from the Missouri and Northern Arkansas Railroad.   terry cantrell/Wikimedia Commons

KANSAS CITY – A former freight railroad conductor has filed a lawsuit against a Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad Company Inc. after being injured on the job. 

Nicholas Cope filed the June 5 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri Southwestern Division. Cope is accusing the company of violating the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). According to court documents, he was working near the Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Industry Rail Yard on Jan. 20, 2017 when he descended from a locomotive, stepped on debris in the walking area of the tracks and injured his ankle.

Cope alleges that the MNA failed to clear its walking areas of debris, provide adequate lighting and address unsafe working conditions. He reportedly sustained injuries to blood vessels, ligaments, muscles, soft tissues and tendons of his ankles, causing him “to undergo severe pain and suffering.” He is asking for damages in excess of $75,000. 

When Cope reported his injury to management, MNA reportedly told him not to seek medical treatment “and warned him doing so would result in serious consequences.” He complied and tried to work through the injury in the following weeks, according to the lawsuit. During that time, “he routinely discussed the injury and his continued pain” with management. 

After five weeks of seeing no improvement in his condition, Cope notified management that he was going to see an orthopedic surgeon. MNA reportedly told him to seek medical treatment at an occupational health clinic. He went to the clinic in March 2017 and was terminated the next day, according to the lawsuit. 

The complaint alleges that Cope’s “protected activity in reporting his on-duty injury and seeking medical treatment was a contributing factor” in his termination. Cope is being represented by attorneys at Schlichter, Bogard & Denton in St. Louis.

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