Thursday, July 16, 1992
Railroad ordered to pay $640,000 for severed leg
LINDA HEISERMAN, Nonpareil Staff Writer
jury awarded a Council Bluffs man nearly $640,000 in damages
Wednesday for an April 1990 rail-car accident in which he lost his
Harold L. Kirk, then 45, was working for Help Inc., a company
that hires temporary employees for other businesses, when the
was working at Alter Trading Co., standing on top of an
open-topped gondola rail car unloading the car, according to the
Another rail car released by a switch engine crew working for
Union Pacific Railroad rolled along the tracks and hit the gondola
car, throwing Kirk onto the tracks, the suit said.
then rolled over his right leg, severing it above the knee,
Kirk's original suit filed in July 1990 sought damages from the
Union Pacific Railroad, Alter Trading Co. and Help Inc.
Claims against Alter Trading Co. and Help Inc. were dismissed
William Gast, an attorney for Kirk, said a $200,000
settlement was reached with Alter Trading Co.
jury awarded Kirk $752,773 for past, present and future medical
expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering and loss of
However, the jury found Union Pacific 85 percent at fault, and
ordered it to pay that percentage of the damages - $639,857.
Trading Co. was found 15 percent at fault. Since Alter had
already agreed to a settlement before the case went to trial, the
jury verdict does not require any further payment.
Lamson, an attorney for Union Pacific, said an appeal would be
Gast said the verdict would also include interest starting
began July 7 and testimony concluded Tuesday. The jury reached a
verdict shortly before noon Wednesday after about 51/2 hours of
Gast said he and his partner, Terry Gutierrez, had worked on
the case for two years and were pleased with the verdict.