Saturday, July 21, 2007

Train engineer PO'd the Nebraska Supreme Court; Supreme Court reverses $53K jury verdict that was in Burlington Northern employees favor after the railroad disciplined him for refusing to submit to a urine test. Jackson v. Brotherhood's Relief & Comp. Fund, S-06-177, 273 Neb. 1013. On the day the railraod asked the plaintiff to submit to a urine test, he refused,first that he had already urinated before reporting to work, next that he would not drink water because that would give him indigestion, finally that he was taking the antidepressant effexor and his doctor had diagnosed him to have prostatitis, and he claimed that a side effect of the drug was difficulty in urinating. Burlington northern suspended the plaintiff for several months, and he made a claim for reimbursement of lost income from his Union fund that compensates members for time lost due to minor disciplinary actions. The fund refused to pay and the Plaintiff sued. The Box Butte county jury ruled for the plaintiff in part from evidence that he was unable to urinate due to the drugs side effects and from the plaintiff's unverified hair samples that purported to show him drug free. Supreme Court reverses, as the Plaintiff could not establish the proper reasons to admit this mostly scientific evidence. "Insufficient foundation was laid for Jackson’s opinions regarding medical causation, the excerpts from the medical and nutrition books, the prescribing information for effexor, and the results of the forensic hair analyses. evidence that would not have made it through the front door of admissibility nevertheless made its way to the jury through the back door, cloaked as exhibits 17 and 18. We conclude that the district court abused its discretion in admitting exhibits 17 and 18 into evidence. " The court further found admitting the exhibits reversible error because nothing indicated that their admission was harmless.exhibits 17 and 18 into evidence could have unfairly prejudiced the Fund in a number of ways. because we are unable to determine that exhibits17 and 18 did not affect the result of the trial unfavorably to the Fund, we conclude that reception of that evidence was prejudicial and reversible error.

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