Former train conductor gets $2.17M settlement

Print Article

A former BNSF Railway Co. conductor from Columbia Falls was awarded $2.17 million by a jury Nov. 7 in federal court for an injury he sustained while working for the railroad in 2015.

According to court documents, on July 31, 2015, Zachary Wooten was getting out of a locomotive when he heard a “pop” and felt pain in his right wrist when the door latch to the train stuck and didn’t immediately open.

Wooten then left the train and did a “roll by” inspection. When he tried to get back into the train, he grabbed the hand rail and fell back onto the ballast because his hand, which was injured while trying to open the door, gave out. He claimed he suffered severe and disabling injuries to his right arm and wrist.

He further claimed he properly reported the incident and injury to the engineer and other BNSF supervisors.

BNSF, in turn, did its own investigation and fired Wooten, who had worked for the railroad for five years, on Sept. 29, 2015. In his initial complaint, Wooten claimed he was blacklisted by the company.

The company, in turn, claimed Wooten was dishonest and had changed his story and did not report the injury in good faith. They claimed to have video evidence that showed Wooten was injured prior to coming to work that day in July, not after, according to court documents.

In the end, the jury found that Wooten was 25 percent negligent in the case and the railroad was 75 percent negligent, according to court documents.

The railroad may file an appeal in the case.

“BNSF is disappointed by the verdict in the lawsuit brought by former conductor Zachary Wooten,” BNSF said in a statement. “Mr. Wooten was dismissed for dishonesty in 2015 after a full investigation that included representation by three union representatives on his behalf. BNSF denies it has violated the law and is reviewing post-trial and appeal options.”

Print Article

Read More Local News

‘A warrior’s spirit and a servant’s heart’

October 14, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The desire for a more fulfilling career led Cory Clarke to the law enforcement field more than a decade ago and now he is the 2019 Montana Association of Chiefs of Police Montana Officer of the Year....

Comments

Read More

Columbia Falls council OKs subdivision, nixes cabins

October 14, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Columbia Falls City Council voted unanimously last week to approve a new major subdivision east of the Flathead River outside Columbia Falls, but denied a planned-unit development proposal that w...

Comments

Read More

Kalispell council mulls $2M intersection project

October 14, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Kalispell City Council will discuss a $2 million intersection improvement project, as well as city bike racks and the city’s agreement with the City-County Board of Health at a work session this ...

Comments

Read More

Mayor addresses growth, challenges facing Whitefish

October 13, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld drove into town for the first time on a Monday in July of 1995. He said Whitefish was like a “ghost town,” with just a few blinking traffic lights at 7:30 in the morning...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X