A federal jury awarded Andrew Barati, a Metro-North Railroad worker who filed a personal injury lawsuit against his employer, about $1 million in punitive damages last month. Barati accused Metro-North of the labor-law violation of wrongful termination, and the jury agreed he had been fired in retaliation for reporting a work-related injury. The decision was based on the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 2008, a law that explicitly prohibits railroad management from disciplining workers for reporting or seeking treatment for an on-the-job personal injury.
According to Barati’s personal injury attorney, Charles Goetsch, this case marks the first time that Metro-North has been forced to pay for punitive damages. He said that, “The message is that retaliation against railroad workers who report injuries and safety concerns will not be tolerated.” He added that three other workers who suffered on-site personal injuries filed complaints under the FRSA had previously been awarded $75,000 each in punitive damages, but their cases are still pending and awaiting trial.
Considering that Barati received a drastically larger amount than them from the courts, this ruling should open the door for large personal injury settlements for those workers, and for any other railroad workers who file work-related injury lawsuits in the future. Barati said that he suffered a personal injury when a jack failed and a rail tie fell on his foot and broke his big toe in April of 2008. After he reported the injury, Metro-North gave him a notice of firing, which led him to file his personal injury lawsuit. If you have suffered a work-related injury of any kind, our New York City personal injury lawyers specialize in winning personal injury cases, so contact us if you think you have a case.