The Mohan Groble Scolaro trial team of Ray Groble and Matt Hammer, together with Christy Mennen (Nilan Johnson Lewis, Minneapolis) prevailed after a two-week long jury trial before Judge Ronald Bartkowicz. In that trial, which concluded on February 6, 2019, the jury awarded Jose Velasco, a 31-year-old former Canadian Pacific Trainmaster who has not worked since the February 2015 accident, only $33,075 of the $3,942,760 he requested in damages for his low back injury. The jury’s award was also about 50% less than the recommendation made by defense counsel Ray Groble in closing.
On February 9, 2015 Velasco was working as an outside Trainmaster at Canadian Pacific’s Galewood Yard when he slipped and fell three times on ice and snow – conditions that were described by other workers as “like a skating rink”. Velasco was treated conservatively for post-concussive symptoms and back pain, but his low back did not resolve. Since March of 2017 Velasco had treated with a pain doctor, Cyril Philip, who diagnosed him with facetogenic pain and sacroiliac dysfunction, and determined that Velasco was permanently limited to sedentary work, no more than 8 hours per day, and no overtime. Two other doctors concurred with Dr. Philip’s diagnosis, connected these low back problems to Velasco’s falls and agreed with the limitation of only sedentary work. While Canadian Pacific does have some positions fitting most of those restrictions, all of those jobs require some overtime, which Velasco’s doctor refused to consider.
Canadian Pacific maintained that there was no objective evidence to support Velasco’s continuing complaints of pain, that his symptoms were inconsistent with objective radiographic studies and other tests, and that Velasco could work overtime if he wanted to. Canadian Pacific’s defenses were bolstered by social media posts about Velasco attending rap music festivals in other states and spending significant time in a recording studio at least an hour from his home. The jury deliberated about three hours before rendering its verdict.
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