- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A jury has awarded $900,000 to an ex-Union Pacific train conductor who sued the railroad after suffering injuries in a 2010 derailment in Columbus.

A Douglas County District Court jury deliberated for more than four hours Oct. 30 before awarding the money to 68-year-old Loren Sweley of North Platte, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1yYL7hF ) reported.

Omaha-based Union Pacific declined to comment on the jury’s ruling.

Sweley’s lawsuit states the train was traveling around 50 miles per hour on a foggy night in January 2010 when it hit a bulldozer performing work on the unlighted track.

“There was no time to slow the train and it crashed into the dozer resulting in injury and damage,” the suit states.

His attorney, Randy LaNeave, said his client and an engineer also on the train only had about 200 yards to react to the looming equipment. LaNeave said it can take a mile or more to stop a train of about 100 cars traveling at those speeds. About 22 cars were derailed in the accident.

Severe spinal injuries left Sweley unable to work, LaNeave said.

“It was terribly traumatic and caused career-ending injuries,” he said.

The engineer settled his claims with Union Pacific out of court, LaNeave said.

According to Union Pacific’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company paid out $89 million in personal injury claims last year, a decrease of 8 percent from 2012.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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