Switchman who lost leg in accident sues Tacoma Rail

A former switchman with Tacoma Rail has sued the railroad, contending it created an unsafe work environment that contributed to an accident in which he lost a leg.

Nathan Johnson, 45, of Fife, seeks monetary damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages, according to his lawsuit.

Attorneys George Thornton and Mark Mostul filed the suit on Johnson’s behalf earlier this month in Pierce County Superior Court.

The lawsuit does not state the specific amount of money Johnson seeks, but in an earlier claim filed with the city he asked for $6 million, records show.

Debra Dickerson, the attorney hired to represent Tacoma Rail, said last week it is the railroad’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.

Johnson was injured on Nov. 18, 2014.

According to his lawsuit, he was attempting to climb onto a moving railcar when he slipped and fell.

“… his leg went under the moving railroad car resulting in severe injuries and amputation of his lower extremity,” his claim with the city states.

Tacoma Rail encourages employees to climb onto and off moving trains “in order to speed up the work and save on labor costs,” Johnson’s claim states.

“Further, upon information and belief, Tacoma Rail supplied a railroad car whose safety appliances were damaged and defective, in violation of the Federal Railway Safety Appliance Act …,” Johnson’s claim states.

Johnson’s lawsuit is the second filed by a Tacoma Rail switchman in the past seven years, court records show.

Another employee of the railroad sued in 2008 after he slipped and fell from a railcar in 2005, injuring his knee.

That case settled out of court.