Court of Appeals upholds $1.25M verdict against BNSF

SEATTLE (AP) — A panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a $1.25 million verdict awarded in 2015 to a railroad whistleblower who claimed he was retaliated against and fired for reporting safety violations to federal regulators.

The Seattle Times reported Monday that the three-member panel rejected claims by the BNSF Railway that the trial court applied the wrong legal standard to its efforts to show that Michael Elliott had engaged in misconduct and that was the reason he was fired.

Elliott was a 16-year-veteran locomotive engineer and senior elected officer for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The judges also found there was “substantial evidence” to support the jury’s finding that complaints Elliott made about safety concerns were a “contributing factor” to BNSF’s efforts to fire him.