Railway safety whistleblower awarded $1.25 million

A federal jury in Washington ruled that railroad company BNSF retaliated against a BNSF employee whistleblower Mike Elliott, who brought safety concerns to light. They awarded Elliott $1.25 million in damages. In 2011,Elliott raised safety concerns about the freight and passenger rail line connecting Vancouver, Washington, and Seattle, complaining that signal system, which controls traffic on the line, did not function properly and was obscured by overgrown vegetation.

Elliott reported the safety concerns to BNSF supervisors but they took no action. He then took his concerns to a federal safety agency, the document said. The subsequent investigation by the Federal Railway Administration turned up more than 350 violations along the rail line.

Soon after, Elliot said, a BNSF supervisor intentionally provoked a physical confrontation with him and he was subsequently fired.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.