SEPTA carpenter alleges faulty fence-installing tool gave him serious hernia injury

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jun 21, 2018

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)  

PHILADELPHIA – A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) carpenter has initiated litigation against the entity for violation of the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), claiming a machine it gave him to operate caused him to suffer an inguinal hernia last year.

Timothy Donohue of Coatesville filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on June 13 versus SEPTA, also of Philadelphia.

“On June 11, 2017, plaintiff was working at the SEPTA Swarthmore Station where he was assigned to install fence posts. Plaintiff was installing fence posts in the divide between northbound and southbound traffic using a Pneumatic Post Driver attached to a Chicago fitting air line and to a compressor. Plaintiff was operating the tool along with his partner, Vince Czecheski, who was not working in rhythm with plaintiff due to the height difference between the two workers,” according to the lawsuit.

The machine was blowing wet air exhaust onto the machine’s handles due to the lack of an air dryer installed for the compressor air, rendering the handles very slippery and causing plaintiff to have difficulty getting proper leverage in operating the machine, the suit says. Further, Donohue was required to work on uneven ballast, the suit says.

“Additionally, plaintiff had never used this machine before, and had not receiving any training or instructions on how to operate it. The Pneumatic Post Driver is a tool that is mostly used by welders, not employees in plaintiff’s trade. Suddenly, plaintiff felt a sharp pain in his groin,” the suit states.

The suit alleges as a result of SEPTA’s negligence, Donohue suffered an inguinal hernia that required surgical repair at Brandywine Hospital and resulted in the plaintiff losing more than two months’ worth of professional income, about $18,000.

Donohue claims SEPTA violated federal law by not providing him with a safe place to work, failed to comply with its own internal safety rules and regulations and failed to provide appropriate, functional and safe protective gear, in addition to a number of other charges.

For one count of FELA violation and related negligence, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 plus interest, costs and any other amount the Court deems fit to award, in addition to a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by James J. McEldrew III and Ian M. Bryson of McEldrew Young, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180601389

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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Organizations in this Story

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

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