In August of 2003, John Wilson, a former conductor for The Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad, was injured when a fence pole hit his shoulder while he was on the side of a train car. Wilson, a United Transportation Union local chairman, filed a FELA claim against the railroad company he worked for because of this close clearance problem on the line servicing the Ford Motors plant.
The FELA lawsuit was filed by a competitor law firm. The Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) jury awarded him compensation for being knocked out of his job and for his injury which required surgery. Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) is generally known as being one of the best jury pools for plaintiffs in the Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA) area. The Norfolk, Virginia (VA) & Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) Belt Line Railroad is appealing the $330,000 awarded to Wilson.
The Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad is used to service industries and yards in those Virginia (VA) cities. The Norfolk Southern Railroad uses the Belt Line, so it does not do business in Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) to prevent being sued there.
For more information on this subject, please refer ot our section on Airlines, Cruises, Buses, and Other Mass Transit Accidents.