by Ron Gregory
WILLIAMSON — After a week-long trial, Pike County, Kentucky resident Randy J. Ray has received a verdict of $800,000 against Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
Ray was represented during the trial by Mingo County attorney Greg “Hootie” Smith and Patrick O’Brien of St. Louis. Special Judge Thomas H. Keadle presided over the trial after Mingo Judge Miki Thompson was recused. Thompson’s husband is a current employee of Norfolk Southern and thus she could not preside.
Keadle retired after nearly 28 years on the bench from the 26th Judicial Circuit, which includes Upshur and Lewis counties. He accepted a senior status role from the State Supreme Court following his full-time retirement.
The trial in Williamson concluded with the $800,000 verdict in favor of Ray on Friday. Three days of the trial were held in the Mingo Circuit courtroom with the final two days moved due to other Circuit Court proceedings.
Smith and O’Brien brought Ray’s claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), which the attorneys said requires Norfolk Southern to provide a reasonably safe place for employees to work.
The plaintiffs presented evidence to the jury supporting the position that Ray received a permanent back injury on June 23, 2012. They said Norfolk Southern rules required Ray to lift an over 81-pound knuckle as a part of his job as a car man in their Williamson maintenance shop.
The railroad company was represented by J.H. Mahaney and Matthew Lockhart of Dinsmore & Shohl in Huntington.
Smith operates the Law Offices of Greg K. Smith on East Second Avenue in Williamson. He is also a long-time member of the Mingo County Commission.