Amtrak conductor knocked unconscious on the job files injury claim

By Jon Campisi | Oct 24, 2011

An Amtrak conductor who claims he was knocked unconscious after stepping foot off a New York to Philadelphia-bound train two years ago to assist departing passengers has filed a civil complaint against his employer in state court.

James R. Hatzold, Jr., and his wife, Debra A. Pawlicki, of Delran, N.J., filed the personal injury claim Oct. 20 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Amtrak, formally known as National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc.

The lawsuit, filed by Philadelphia attorney Samuel Abloeser, of the firm Williams, Cuker & Berezofsky, states that Hatzold was injured on Dec. 13, 2009, when he slipped on a slippery substance after he stepped off the train at the Princeton Junction Train Station to assist passengers off the train.

After he slipped, Hatzold fell “violently” to the ground, the lawsuit states, striking his head on the platform with such “enormous force” that he was temporarily knocked unconscious, and needed to be taken by ambulance to the University Medical Center in Princeton, N.J.

As a result of his fall, Hatzold sustained various injuries to his head, neck and back, and he continues to suffer physical pain and mental distress to this day, the suit claims.

The incident caused Hatzold to spend significant sums of money on medical care. He has also suffered humiliation, mental anguish and the limitation and restriction of his usual activities, pursuits and pleasures, the lawsuit states. His earning power has also been affected.

The lawsuit accuses Amtrak of negligence for failing to provide Hatzold with a reasonably safe place to work, failing to inspect and discover the dangerous condition that led to the plaintiff’s incident, forcing Hatzold to dismount his train onto a hazardous condition, failing to provide adequate and safe handholds for its crew to access and hold for protection when exiting the trains at platforms, and failing to remove the slick ice that caused the plaintiff’s injuries from the platform.

Similarly, the lawsuit accuses New Jersey Transit of negligence for failing to issue appropriate warnings of the hazardous and untreated icy conditions, failing to remedy the hazardous condition and failing to exercise due care and caution commensurate with the surrounding circumstances.

For each of the two counts listed in the complaint, Hatzold demands judgment in a sum in excess of the arbitrational limits, or $50,000, plus other court relief.

Hatzold’s wife, Pawlicki, has a loss of consortium count in the lawsuit in which she claims she has been deprived of her husband’s companionship, comfort, love, solace, services and affection due to the accident.

She, too, seeks judgment in excess of $50,000, plus other legal relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The case number is 111002608.

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