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Norfolk & Western Railway Co. v. Liepelt

444 U.S. 490 (1980)

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Norfolk & Western Railway Co. v. Liepelt

United States Supreme Court

444 U.S. 490 (1980)

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Facts

A fireman (the decedent) employed by Norfolk & Western Railway (the Railway) (defendant) was killed in a collision caused by the Railway’s negligence. The administratrix of the decedent’s estate (plaintiff) sued the Railway under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). An expert for the plaintiff testified regarding the gross income that the decedent would have received over the course of his expected lifetime and the value of the services that he would have performed for his family. The expert testified that the total value of the lost income and lost services, discounted to the present value, was $302,000. The trial court excluded evidence regarding the federal income taxes that would have been paid on the decedent's earnings. The Railway also requested a jury instruction that the award would not be subject to income taxes. The trial court denied the requested instruction, and the jury awarded $775,000 to the decedent’s estate.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Blackmun, J.)

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