After a Madison County, Illinois Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) trial which lasted five days, Matthew Whitfield was awarded $730,000 by the jury. However, the jury found that he was 50 percent responsible for the accident and reduced the award by half.


Whitfield filed the suit in 2003 against Amtrak claiming that he sustained a disabling personal injury while working as an electrician on February 4, 2002.


According to Whitfield, he was doing electrical work on a locomotive in Indianapolis, Indiana when he fell over a door from a panel within the locomotive’s interior hallway and permanently injured his knee.


Whitfield alleged negligence on the part of Amtrak for its failure to provide him with a safe workplace, safe tools, and safe lighting within the work area where his injury occurred.

Whitfield claimed during the trial that all of the lights inside the locomotive were out and the work he was performing required the use of both of his hands, making it nearly impossible to use a flashlight.


Amtrak claimed that after the incident took place, Whitfield told his supervisor that the fall was his fault. The supervisor was asked during the trial and said that he still believed the accident to be Whitfield’s fault because he told him so immediately afterward.


Whitfield claimed that in addition to the injury to his knee, he also sustained personal injuries to his neck and back, all of which caused him to suffer pain and suffering, lost wages and benefits, and medical expenses.

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