Jury Awards $58 Million to Train Yard Worker for Slip and Fall

A Los Angeles jury recently awarded a verdict of over $58 million in damages to a train yard worker who was injured in a slip and fall. The jury found that the worker’s employer, Kinkisharyo International LLC, a rail car manufacturer, was negligent which caused the injuries.

Train yard worker

ByAnjelica Cappellino, J.D.

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Published on June 20, 2024

Train yard worker

What Happened?

In 2016, Pablo Scipione (age 46) was working as an independent contractor for Altech Services doing electrical repairs. On the date of the incident, he was called into work at 2 a.m. and instructed by his supervisor to complete the repairs by 5 a.m. at a train yard owned by Kinkisharyo International. While working at the premises, he slipped and fell off of a wet train car roof. He suffered a micro-fracture in his left foot but returned to work the next day. Two months after the accident, he visited a doctor for the first time and underwent surgery. He was then diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome – a chronic pain disease. He continued to work full-time for nearly a year and a half but eventually, the debilitating nature of the injuries forced him to stop.

In 2018, Scipione filed a negligence lawsuit against Kinkisharyo International, alleging that the company routinely ignored proper safety protocols and failed to take any corrective action concerning the dangerous conditions on the tops of the trains, such as inadequate lighting and slip hazards. According to the fourth amended complaint, Scipione was ordered by a supervisor to do work on top of the train car when it was still wet, which resulted in his slip and fall. The complaint further alleged an environment of indifference towards its employees and a conscious disregard for safety.

In 2022, Scipione offered to settle the case for $3 million, but the defendant refused.

The Trial

Represented by Alexander R. Wheeler and Khail A. Parris of Parris Law Firm, the plaintiff’s arguments at trial emphasized Kinkisharyo’s unrealistic work timelines and lack of regard for safety in its fast-paced, demanding environment. At trial, a former safety instructor for the defendant testified that "the overall goal of Kinkisharyo was to 'get trains out as fast as [possible] and [not] worry about safety' because they were 'not performing [their] duties or completing [their] work in a safe manner[,]' and the 'safety procedures weren't being followed.'"

Kinkisharyo, represented by Bradford DeJarin of Husch Blackwell LLP, argued that Scipione's injuries were the result of his own negligence so he was only entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. The defendant also challenged the entirety of the plaintiff’s version of events, including the circumstances surrounding the fall, how the plaintiff fractured his foot, the CRPS diagnosis, as well as the extent of each category of damages.

Ultimately, the Los Angeles Superior Court jury rejected the defendant’s arguments, returning a verdict in favor of Scipione. The jury awarded Scipione a total award of $58.35 million -- $54.15 million in compensatory damages and $4.2 million in punitive damages.

"Not only did the jury recognize our client's suffering, they also sent a strong signal to Kinkisharyo by awarding punitive damages," the plaintiff’s counsel, Alexander R. Wheeler, said in a statement. "Kinkisharyo tried everything possible to downplay the severity of our client's injuries,” Wheeler added. “The jury saw through their failed tactics and understood the pain our client deals with every day." “An injury this severe was bound to happen,” said plaintiff’s attorney, Khail A. Parris. “Employees frequently complained to supervisors that the station was poorly lit, and yet nothing was done to ensure a safe working environment.”

Kinkisharyo International did not release a statement addressing the verdict.

About the author

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, Esq., a New York Law School alumna and psychology graduate from St. John’s University, is an accomplished attorney at Meringolo & Associates, P.C. She specializes in federal criminal defense and civil litigation, with significant experience in high-profile cases across New York’s Southern and Eastern Districts. Her notable work includes involvement in complex cases such as United States v. Joseph Merlino, related to racketeering, and U.S. v. Jimmy Cournoyer, concerning drug trafficking and criminal enterprise.

Ms. Cappellino has effectively represented clients in sentencing preparations, often achieving reduced sentences. She has also actively participated in federal civil litigation, showcasing her diverse legal skill set. Her co-authored article in the Albany Law Review on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines underscores her deep understanding of federal sentencing and its legal nuances. Cappellino's expertise in both trial and litigation marks her as a proficient attorney in federal criminal and civil law.

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