Cynthia Huerta of SMSH Honored with Largest Railroad Settlement of 2015
Attorney Cynthia Huerta of Schechter, Shaffer & Harris was recognized in Verdict Search’s Top Texas Verdicts and Settlements list for obtaining the largest FELA/ railroad worker injury settlement of 2015 in the case of “Gary Epple v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC and BNSF Railway Co.” In this case, the client won $1,860,969.
Gary Epple, of Granbury Texas recently won a $1,860,969 jury verdict against BNSF Railway Company – a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. He was represented by trial lawyers, Reed Morgan, David Glenn and Cynthia Huerta. “I’m proud that our trial team obtained a win for Mr. Epple and his family against BNSF Railway Co.,” Huerta said. “It took a long time, lots of work, creativity and perseverance.”
Epple worked for BNSF Railway Company for 36 years. On September 24, 2010, BNSF instructed Epple, a railroad conductor, to make a stop in a rail yard located in Purcell, Oklahoma. The Purcell rail yard had no overhead lighting. Epple exited the train and used a company issued lantern to perform his conductor duties in the dark and in the rain. When Epple was done, he walked almost a mile to reach the head of his train when he came upon a pile of broken ties and debris in the walkway.
“He came to a mound of debris blocking the walk path, which was too wide to step over,” Huerta said. “He did what any sensible person in the same position would have done – he walked around the debris. He stepped onto an adjacent bridge, and then slipped, twisted his back and landed on his right knee.”
Three months later, BNSF Railway Co., terminated Epple’s employment. Epple was 58. He required a total knee replacement and three separate back surgeries as a result of his injuries.
Huerta filed a claim on Gary Epple’s behalf under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, commonly known as FELA,that requires railroads to maintain a safe working environment. The lawsuit alleged that BNSF Railway Company was negligent by failing to keep a culvert clear for water flow and failing to clean up debris in the rail yard in Purcell, Oklahoma.
Cynthia Huerta is an attorney atSchechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers a Houston-based law firm that represents injured workers in Texas and across the nation for over 50 years and has won hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of their clients.
Huerta’s practice is devoted to personal injury litigation, including railroad accidents, maritime accidents, motor vehicle accidents, premises liability claims, product liability claims, and other workplace accidents.
Huerta has been voted a Rising Star by Texas Super Lawyers Magazine from 2008 to 2014, and was voted one of Houston’s Top Lawyers in 2013 and 2014. She is fluent in Spanish.