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He'd rather be healthy than rich

Author / Coordinator: Kris Jensen
Quad-City Times

Harvey Jack says he would give up one of Rock Island County’s largest awards by a jury just to have a healthy back again.

“That’s what you miss the most. You don’t get to pick up your kids. I’d swap all of the money to have things the way they were,” Jack said.

A 12-member circuit court jury awarded $450,000 to the Silvis man last week for injuries he received while employed as a carman by the Rock Island Railroad.

The 29-year employee injured his back when he fell in 1976 while working at a derailment.

Since then, he has undergone back surgery and the pain has been so bad he had to have a special chair for his circuit court trial last week.

Jack, 56, said he has not yet received the award, but much of it will go for medical, legal and other bills.

“I’m not near the man I was. I can’t carry on many of the activities I once did,” the former East Moline football standout said.

Jack filed the lawsuit claiming he received the permanent, partial disability because of the railroad’s negligence.

The jury deliberated seven hours before awarding $300,000 for pain and suffering, and $200,000 for lost wages.

Larry Stern, of Rerat law firm in Minneapolis that represented Jack, said that 10 percent of the amount was discounted because of negligence attributed to Jack.

Durward Long Sr., a Rock Island lawyer who acted as local counsel, said the jury’s award “is certainly one of the highest if not the highest personal injury verdicts in Rock Island County.”

Long said his client will have to apply to the judge overseeing bankruptcy proceedings of the railroad to receive his money.

Long said Jack may have to be paid in installments by the defunct railroad, but he expects the claim to be a priority.

Jack said he had gone to the derailment site and was asked to climb on top of one of the two overturned tank cars to place a hook on it so it could be set upright. He said he fell 10 to 15 feet onto the wheels of one of the cars.

He alleged negligence on the part of the railroad because he said the railroad wrecker could have been used to lift the car upright, eliminating the need for his assignment, and that a ladder was not provided to assist him.