Everett v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.Annotate this Case
In March 2006, appellant Michael Everett was employed as an engineer for appellee Norfolk Southern Railway Company and was tasked with using his locomotive to push a six-car train into an auto plant in Georgia. One of the employees working with appellant misinformed him that the train derailment device was in the "off" position when in fact it was in the "on" position. Acting at the direction of his supervisor, appellant moved the train forward, and, due to the position of the derailment device, three of the six cars derailed and two of the derailed cars crashed into the auto plant. Appellant’s locomotive did not derail and he suffered no physical injury from the accident, however, soon after the accident, appellant was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and he has not been able to return to work. Appellant brought a suit against appellee to recover damages for emotional distress. The issue before the Supreme Court on appeal was whether a jury could decide whether a plaintiff in a case brought pursuant to the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) was within the "zone of danger" in order to recover for emotional distress injuries stemming from a work-related accident. Because the Court answered that question in the negative, it reversed and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.