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Cheff v. BNSF Railway Co.

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  • Cheff v. BNSF Railway Co.

    Date Decided: Nov 3rd, 2010
    Decided By: Montana Supreme Court (State)
    Court: Montana S. Court.
    Citation: 358 Mont. 144 (2010)

    Background:
    Plaintiff, a railroad employee, was injured when heslipped and fell on an icy walkway on his employer's premises. Plaintiff thereafter brought his injuryto the attention of his employer, BNSF Railway ("BNSF"). Plaintiff's medical report indicatedthat he needed surgery due to a herniated disc in his back. BNSF's claims department offered Plaintiffa $300,000 settlement (containing a "Release") and offered to extend hismedical coverage post employment, up to 2010, even though the Plaintiff alreadyhad a right to receive continued medical coverage under BNSF policy. Plaintiff signed the Release. However, Plaintiff cancelled thesurgery because he was no longer a candidate for surgery due to a newlydiscovered pre-existing condition. While surgery was an option, it was of a different nature than initiallyplanned and only appropriate in an emergency situation. Plaintiff then brought this actionpursuant to the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51 et al. (FELA), against his employer,BNSF. Plaintiff alleged theRelease was void for lack of consideration, mutual mistake, and fraudulentinducement. The district held theRelease to be invalid due to mutual mistake. The case went to trial, and Plaintiff recovered. Defendant asserted that it was entitledto an offset of the 300k already paid, plus interest. The district court granted the 300k offset but deniedinterest. Defendant appealed.
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