On October 31, 1985, I was employed by New Jersey Transit Rail Operations as a signal trainee in their Signal Department. I was sent out with my immediate supervisor to a signal bridge over the railroad tracks to perform maintenance work. My supervisor sent me up on the bridge to change a bulb in a cage. When I was finished changing the bulb, I climbed back up onto the bridge catwalk and waved to my supervisor. At that moment, 27,000 volts of electricity arced from a high voltage line above me. I put my arms up to protect my face and sustained second and third degree burns on both of my arms, shoulders and chest. After my discharge from the burn unit of a local hospital, a Staten Island plastic surgeon performed about eight different surgical procedures necessitated by my developing Keyloid scars that bubbled up on both of my arms. Tissue expansion devices had to be implanted under my skin to “grow new skin” to replace the Keyloids. The surgical process was extremely difficult to endure. Fortunately, my lawyer, Ira Maurer, was able to assist me in getting through the ordeal and provide a good deal of emotional support.
Ira Maurer brought a lawsuit against my employer, New Jersey Transit Rail Operations. The railroad tried to avoid paying me anything by arguing that the railroad was a quasi-governmental agency entitled to sovereign immunity from being sued under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, Ira Maurer was able to defeat the railroad’s efforts to escape liability and the case went to trial in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Ira Maurer proved that the 27,000 volt electrical line that caused my burns was positioned too low, in violation of federal regulations. After a few weeks of trial that commenced on 10/31/89 — exactly four years after the date of my injury — Ira won a settlement for me totaling $1,250,000.00. The money helped me start my life over by making it possible for me to purchase a farm in Georgia, get married and start a family.