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Federal court upholds ruling in favor of injured former BNSF employee

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A federal appeals court upheld a verdict allowing a former BNSF employee to be compensated $3.1 million for an unlawful termination and workplace-related injuries.

In a June 22 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld an April 2019 ruling that enabled former BNSF conductor Zachary Wooten to receive compensatory damages, lost wages, punitive damages and front pay from BNSF (NYSE: BRK). The total compensation equaled about $3.1 million, according to court documents and a Monday article in the Flathead Beacon.

Wooten had claimed that BNSF terminated him in September 2015 after he sustained work-related injuries. Wooten argued that BNSF’s action violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), the Federal Employers’ Liability Act and the Locomotive Inspection Act. 

After an 11-day jury trial in October and November 2018, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Wooten on the claims pertaining to the FRSA and the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, but in favor of BNSF with regard to the Locomotive Inspection Act. 

BNSF appealed the verdict and sought a new jury trial. But in the April 2019 ruling, Judge Dana L. Christensen with the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana denied BNSF’s request. 

“Wooten acquired at BNSF a specific set of skills that were related only to the transportation industry. After being dismissed in violation of the FRSA, Wooten was faced with an essentially non-existent job market for comparable paying jobs …,” the appeals court said on June 22.

It continued: “In the vast majority of cases, a plaintiff will be able to find a comparable job within a few years, and for that reason, only a few years of front pay will be sufficient to bridge the gap in earnings. But this is not a typical situation. The district court’s findings supporting the front pay award were not clearly erroneous, and the award was not an abuse of discretion.”

BNSF told FreightWaves it is reviewing the court’s decision.

Because the previous rulings were upheld, Wooten received a total of $3.1 million through what the trial jury offered him in November 2018 and through BNSF’s subsequent appeal in April 2019.

In November 2018, the jury awarded Wooten $13,177.50 in lost wages and benefits, $1,407,978 in future lost wages and benefits, $500,000 for emotional distress, and $249,999 in punitive damages. Then when Christensen’s court in April 2019 rejected BNSF’s request for a new trial, Wooten received $42,732.47 in prejudgment interest stemming from the jury’s emotional distress award of $500,000, $657,107 for attorneys’ fees, $81,713.22 for expenses and $233,993.70 in expert witness fees.

Wooten had worked as a conductor in the Whitefish rail yard and sustained disabling injuries to his right wrist and arm while he was conducting a roll by, or a visual inspection of another train, according to the Flathead Beacon article, which drew on court documents. Wooten claimed he was dismissed because he refused to file an injury report saying that he had injured his wrist before appearing for work.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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Source: https://www.freightwaves.com/news/federal-court-upholds-ruling-in-favor-of-injured-former-bnsf-employee

Automotive

Shelby American announces Mustang Shelby GT500SE with over 800 horsepower, plus GT350SE limited edition variants

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Here’s your chance to Shelby your Shelby. Shelby American just announced Carroll Shelby Signature Edition versions of the Shelby GT500, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R. They include the Shelby GT500SE, Shelby GT350SE and Shelby GT350RSE. OK, now that we’ve broken the record for most uses of the word “Shelby” in a paragraph, we’ll dial it back a notch.

We’ll kick it off with the supercharged GT500SE. Shelby takes the 760-horsepower 5.2-liter supercharged V8 and fits a new supercharger pulley that ups horsepower to “800-plus.” Shelby doesn’t provide any additional detail besides stating that it requires 93 octane fuel to make that power. A high-volume intercooler and heat exchanger are fitted to handle any excess heat, and a new vented carbon fiber hood is added, too, which weighs 30 pounds less than the factory piece. Suspension upgrades include more aggressive springs, sway bars (front and back), caster camber plates, forged aluminum wheels, extended and hardened wheel studs and a total recalibration. It comes standard with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, but you can add Pilot Sports Cup 2s. Also available optionally is a rear seat delete with harness bar, a widebody kit and painted stripes. Both the interior and exterior are sprinkled with Shelby badging and extra niceties. There will only be 100 per model year of the GT500, and all will receive their own plaque with serial numbers.

Moving on, we come to the Shelby GT350SE and R variants. Shelby provided photos of an R, but you can apply the upgrades to either Mustang. There’s no extra power on tap for the naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 in the GT350SE, but Shelby does add suspension. Similar to the GT500SE, the GT350SE has more aggressive springs, front and rear sway bars, forged wheels and caster camber plates. One note on the wheels: If your Mustang is already fitted with the factory carbon fiber wheels, it’s hard to see these aluminum wheels being an upgrade. 

Its appearance add ons are similar to the GT500SE, too. You get additional Carroll Shelby badging everywhere, new leather seat covers and the same plaque treatment. Shelby plans on limiting the GT350SE to 100 units from each model year going back to the 2015 launch. That means you can send your old Shelby here and have it be retroactively double Shelby-fied. 

The conversions aren’t cheap, though. A Shelby GT500SE is another $29,995 on top of the base car. Upgrading the GT350 to a GT350SE is much cheaper at $9,995. Neither of those prices include transportation to and from Shelby American in Las Vegas. We’d suggest getting in touch with the company if you want to spring for one of these limited edition upgrades.

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Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/07/31/shelby-gt500se-gt350se-limited-edition-versions-debut/

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Driving the Honda Ridgeline and marveling at Tesla | Autoblog Podcast #638

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In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Consumer Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski and Associate Editor Byron Hurd. They start off talking about why more people should buy the Honda Ridgeline, because it’s a pretty darned good truck. Next, Byron talks about some Hyundais. He shares his experiences with the 2020 Sonata Hybrid and talks briefly about the prototype 2021 Elantra currently occupying his driveway. Up next, Jeremy shares his feelings about the BMW X1 crossover he spent some time with, prompting the gang to mull over the notion of BMW’s modern interpretation of “Ultimate Driving Machine.” After that, Byron talks about towing his 1990 Mazda Miata with the 2020 Infiniti QX80, and then they wrap up with some discussion of the mystery surrounding the Ford Maverick and some comments on the current state of Tesla.

Autoblog Podcast #638

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Source: https://www.autoblog.com/2020/07/31/driving-the-honda-ridgeline-and-marveling-at-tesla-autoblog-podcast-638/

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Traveling Around Europe? Don’t Use Dashcams In These Countries

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As petrolheads, whenever we think of dashcams we picture a Lada racing down Russian streets at Mach 10, or a highway accident where a motorist narrowly avoids a crash. While the internet is oversaturated with these types of videos, restrictions to using them often come as an afterthought. Skoda took a deep dive to figure out dashcam rules and regulations worldwide.

Luckily here in North America, we aren’t limited too much with recording our journeys behind the wheel. In Canada, roads are treated as public space making them fair game; meanwhile, for us in the States, the first-amendment means we can record as we like. While documenting our travel is fair game, road users must still be mindful of the state’s rules and regulations. This isn’t a big worry as the main issues of debate are audio recording and blocking the driver’s field of vision.

Skoda Dash Cam Cover 01

Aside from researching dashcam use, Skoda will optimize some of its latest vehicles for using them. From 2021 onwards, the Superb, Kodiaq, Karoq, Scala, and Kamiq models will receive USB-C connectors in common places where cameras are placed. These connectors work to clean up the usual mess of dashcam wires and cables.

While restrictions vary significantly between countries we’re sure you noticed Russia and its seemingly wild set of regulations. It’s no surprise, given the steady stream of dashcam videos we see on social media from the country.

Although Russia is the only country where dashcams are completely unrestricted, there are others that allow them with some red tape involved. Certain areas enforce rules where the driver’s sightline must not be obstructed, and other road user’s faces and license plates need to be blurred before publishing footage.

While dashcams are a great tool in the unfortunate event of an accident, it’s still important to ensure the legality of your setup.

Source: https://www.motor1.com/news/436925/dash-cam-regulations-europe-skoda/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=RSS-category-technology

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