The Texas Supreme Court ruled that a railroad worker who claims he was bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus while performing his job cannot hold the railroad responsible. The high court on Friday ruled 5-1 to reverse a Texas Court of Appeals decision that the Union Pacific Railroad Co. had failed to provide a safe workplace under the Federal Employers Liability Act. The plaintiff, William R. Nami, said that he contracted West Nile and encephalitis on the job in 2008, and that he should have been required to wear long sleeves and use bug spray. The jury in the Court of Appeals found both Union Pacific and Nami negligent, apportioning 80 percent of the responsibility to Union Pacific and 20 percent to Mr. Nami, with damages totaling $752,000 against the railroad. The Texas Supreme Court shot down the verdict, writing that “Union Pacific did nothing to attract mosquitoes, indigenous to Brazoria County and all South Texas, to its small right-of-way, and it could do nothing to keep them out.”
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