Trials & Litigation

Workers or their heirs collect back pay 44 years after suit was filed

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Forty-four years after the initial suit was filed, two retired workers and the estates of 30 others will receive back pay and interest because they lost their jobs and seniority in a railroad merger.

All but $500,000 of the $14.7 million award is interest, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The Cleveland area workers, who were employed by a New York Central subsidiary, had contended they were protected by a jobs deal when the railroad merged with Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968. The company, however, claimed they weren’t direct employees and weren’t entitled to protection.

The case is one of the longest legal disputes in U.S. history, according to the story.

One of the retired workers is 85-year-old John Gallagher, who sought $3,000 but will get $95,000 because of the interest payment. “I didn’t expect to be alive to see this end,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

A federal appeals court upheld the award in September. Before that, the story says, the case “wandered through several courts and was heard by three arbitration panels, as well as the federal Surface Transportation Board.”

Carla Tricarichi represented the workers on contingency after the death of the original lawyer who filed the case—her father.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer covered a judge’s ruling in the suit last year.

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