Appeals court upholds Montana rail worker's $3.1M judgement

Appeals court upholds Montana rail worker's $3.1M judgement

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KALISPELL — A federal appeals court upheld a judge's decision to award more than $3 million to a Montana worker who sued BNSF Railway Co. for wrongful termination.

Zachary Wooten filed a 2016 lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully fired after suffering disabling injuries to his wrist and arm in a rail yard in Whitefish, The Flathead Beacon reports.

A U.S. district judge in Missoula denied BNSF's motion for a new trial in 2019 and granted Wooten fees and other money totaling about $3.14 million.

The June 22 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the award.

Wooten's lawsuit alleged the company violated the Federal Rail Safety Act, the Locomotive Inspection Act and the Federal Employers' Liability Act by firing him in 2015.

The Federal Railroad Safety Act was amended in 2007 to protect whistleblowers and workers injured on the job.

A jury found BNSF had not violated the Locomotive Inspection Act, but violated the other two statutes. The jury also found Wooten was partially responsible for his injuries.

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