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Long Island Signalman Awarded Damages for Injury Exacerbation

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Long Island, NYA workers compensation lawsuit brought by a signal worker with the Long Island Railroad Co. (LIRR) in New York has ended with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Daniel Curran claims to have been injured while responding to a so-called ‘heat kink’ issue that resulted in a buckled rail on the track. Curran had been dispatched, in July 2012 to undertake an emergency repair and claims to have been injured on the job.

However, in an interesting twist centered on worker safety the $991,000 in damages awarded to the plaintiff was not related to the circumstances leading to the alleged injury, but rather an intensive rehabilitation and physical therapy program LIRR is alleged to have pressured Curran into joining post-injury. Curran claimed, through his workers compensation attorney, that the program pushed him beyond his limits and served to exacerbate his alleged injuries from the July, 2012 track repair.

Curran had alleged LIRR was negligent with regard to the rail-buckling incident. In the workers compensation trial, the jury found Curran’s employer not to have been negligent over the incident. However, the jury took issue with a “work hardening” program that Curran was allegedly forced into – in October of that year – that proved more than he could bear.

Curran was off work for a back injury, and collecting benefits as awarded by the workers compensation board. The plaintiff’s workers compensation attorney noted in closing arguments in Curran’s lawsuit that there had been no timeline established for the plaintiff to conclude physical therapy and rehabilitation for his back injury, and thus questioned the wisdom of the defendant to push their employee so hard.

Curran asserted during trial that a supervisor with the LIRR pressured him to join the program, and that his employer threatened him with termination if he refused to sign up for the intensive program.

The LIRR denied that allegation, and all signs point to an appeal. The LIRR had moved for summary judgment last year, but their petition was denied by US District Judge Edgardo Ramos. It should be noted that Curran has collected $360,000 in workers compensation benefits in New York while off work. According to court documents, any damages ultimately awarded to Curran that stick following any potential appeals, will be offset by the amount paid to Curran during his extended absence from the job through workers compensation.

Curran’s workers compensation claims lawsuit is Curran v. Long Island Railroad Co., Case No. 1:13-cv-08452, in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.


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