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Federal judge: No new jury trial, judgment

January 1, 2008
A federal judge in Fort Wayne won't give a former train conductor a new trial relating to injuries he sustained during work.

The decision from U.S. District Judge William C. Lee in the Northern District came Thursday in Terry Lee Wilcox v. CSX Transportation. The case involved claims by the 30-year employee that he couldn't work following injuries he developed over time that resulted in more specific injuries in 2002 and 2004. After a five-day trial in October, the jury decided in favor of the railroad company.

But Wilcox asked Judge Lee to set aside the verdict, maintaining that it was contrary to the clear weight of the evidence and that the "evidence adduced at trial of this action points so strongly and overwhelmingly in favor of Plaintiff that reasonable jurors could only arrive at a verdict in Plaintiff's favor."

Judge Lee declined to do that, saying that Wilcox failed to provide any evidence supporting negligence, the issues were not overly complex, the evidence was not in dispute, and there was no "pernicious or undesirable occurrence at trial."

"The true crux of Wilcox's argument in his motion for a new trial or judgment as a matter of law is that the jury's verdict was simply wrong," Judge Lee wrote. "Wilcox is understandably disappointed with the outcome at trial, as any losing party would be. No doubt this disappointment is compounded by the fact that a plaintiff in a FELA (Federal Employers' Liability Act) action carries a rather 'featherweight' burden of proof."

The judge added, "In this case, Wilcox has not met his burden of establishing that he is entitled either to a new trial or to a judgment as a matter of law. He has not raised any issue that establishes that the jury's verdict was clearly erroneous or that the trial - or any part of it - was manifestly unfair to him."
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