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$1 Million Award Against Union Pacific

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) - State jurors awarded $1.05 million to a welder for injuries he suffered while working for Union Pacific Railroad.

Don Currie, 48, of Villa Grove, Ill., claimed he was injured while lifting heavy equipment on Jan. 28, 2010. He suffered herniated lumbar discs and nerve root impingement and needed surgery to remove one disc and fuse two vertebrae.

Suing under the Federal Employers Liability Act, in St. Clair County Court, Currie claimed the injuries ended his career.

Currie testified that Union Pacific failed to provide adequate equipment and tools, including a truck with a working mechanical lifting device.

Currie's attorney, Nelson Wolff, asked for $2.2 million for medical bills, lost earnings, loss of a normal life and pain and suffering.

"This verdict sends a clear message that railroads should not put profits before safety," Wolff told the Madison County Record.

Union Pacific attorney Tom Jones argued that Currie should not be awarded anything. Union Pacific maintained that Currie was properly trained.

"Union Pacific has continued to do everything they can to provide their employees with a reasonably safe place to work," Jones told the jury during closing arguments. "Do you think Union Pacific wants to be here?"

Jones also claims that Currie had not made an effort to mitigate his damages and look for work.

"It is certainly easier to come to court and ask for money than it is to find work, and obviously Mr. Wolff thinks it's OK to do that," Jones said, according to the Record.

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