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Minnesota Jury Awards Former BNSF Employee $9.4 Million In Damages

MINNEAPOLS (WCCO) -- A former track inspector with BNSF Railway Company was awarded $9.4 million in damages following an eight-day trial Wednesday.

According to a release, a jury found that Don Sanders was retaliated against in violation of the Federal Railway Safety Act after he reported hazardous safety conditions on the railroad and reported the harassment to BNSF's human resources.

"I just want to thank the Court and the jury for their time," Sanders said. "I waited five years for this moment, and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to share the full story of what happened during my employment with BNSF."

Sanders began working for BNSF in 2007 and became a track inspector in their Twin Cities division in 2010.

Under federal regulations, Sanders was required to report defects in tracks rails and enter slow orders, which slow the speed of a train, according to the release.

Sanders says BNSF managers repeatedly harassed and threatened him for reporting the defects and slow orders, said the release.

The jury awarded Sanders $611,797 in lost wages, $250,000 in emotional distress, and $8,600,000 in punitive damages.

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