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Former conductor awarded $2.6M in Fridley train derailment case

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A former conductor with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company was awarded $2.6 million Tuesday for emotional damage he suffered following a train derailment in Fridley in 2011, the Star Tribune reports.

A Hennepin County jury arrived at the judgment for Sean M. Nelson following a two-week trial and four hours of deliberation.

Nelson was the conductor of a 17-car freight train hauling corn and diesel fuel that derailed on July 16, 2011, after torrential rains washed out the foundation of the train tracks near the Rice Creek bridge in Fridley.

The locomotive tipped over in the accident, and Nelson suffered a mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

WCCO reported that only two people were on the train when it derailed.

The other person, an engineer, also suffered PTSD, according to the Star Tribune.

The Fridley Patch said the derailment damaged the bridge, and train cars spilled corn and diesel fuel into Rice Creek at Locke Lake.

Nelson's attorneys claim the accident could have been avoided if the tracks had been properly inspected.

Officials with the railroad company said the area "did not have a history of significant problems and the washout which occurred had not been experienced at this location (in) the 100 year history of these tracks."

A BNSF spokeswoman did not indicate whether the company would appeal the judgment.

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