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The POWER 30: Paula Jossart

Minnesota Lawyer//June 22, 2023

Paula Jossart

Paula Jossart, Jossart Law Office LLC

The POWER 30: Paula Jossart

Minnesota Lawyer//June 22, 2023

Jossart Law Office LLC

Railroad companies’ injured workers are not governed by state workers’ compensation laws or social security, but by the Federal Employer’s Liability Act.

FELA cases have become a niche for Paula Jossart. The plaintiffs are severely injured and the defense may receive large sanction awards. Jossart has a case in Iowa against BNSF where she alleges that material evidentiary video tapes of a locomotive have not been produced and may have been destroyed.

Jossart will ask the court to strike the railroad’s defenses and also for monetary sanctions.

“I would hope that this case and other cases around the country will show that this kind of conduct cannot go unsanctioned,” she said.

Jossart worked with a Florida attorney on behalf of an 18-year-old who was working with his father because the Canadian Pacific railroad was short-staffed, allegedly under the industry’s precision scheduling policies. The boy has had 27 facial surgeries. “This is a big area with a lot of safety concerns,” Jossart said, warning that the country is likely to see more injuries and deaths.

In a 2018 case also against BNSF, involving a neurological injury from hydrocarbons, Jossart secured a $15.3 million award, plus $6.3 million sanctions in Kowalski v. BNSF. The case was tried only on damages because the railroad’s causation and liability defenses were stricken.

Jossart has prosecuted many claims against BNSF, not all of which have resulted in sanctions. But in 2009, where plaintiffs were represented by other attorneys, Washington County Judge Ellen Maas said BNSF had engaged in a “staggering” pattern of misconduct by lying and concealing evidence. Maas assessed a $4 million penalty — on top of a $21.6 million jury award for the families of the four victims killed.

Jossart’s web site lists a dozen six- or seven-figure verdicts against BNSF (including the neurological injury above.) It does not reference any other sanctions awards. It is also replete with other significant awards for injured clients.

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