Robert B. Thompson
Bob Thompson has achieved extraordinary success representing the victims of railroad negligence. With more than 30 years of experience in handling railroad cases for union employees, Bob understands the ins‑and‑outs of railroad operations as well as any railroad management employee. He is also intimately familiar with the Federal Employers’ Liability Act and with the safety provisions in the Federal Rail Safety Act and the Code of Federal Regulations.
Bob is a relentless advocate for his clients and a tireless worker. He has successfully tried and settled thousands of FELA cases, many of which involve complex fact situations and specialized legal arguments. His string of successes on behalf of his clients are voluminous and significant. A few notable recent recoveries include over $12,000,000.00 for an individual who suffered an arm and shoulder amputation, over $4,000,000 for the family of a woman killed in an automobile crash, and recoveries of over both $3,000,000.00 and $4,500,000.00 for individuals who sustained below the knee leg amputations.
Despite maintaining a very active practice, and drawing on his many years of experience, Bob often volunteers his time to help with Amicus Curiae Briefs filed in support of important legal issues under the FELA. Of particular importance, in 2003 Bob assisted with a brief filed in the United States Supreme Court that reversed a disturbing trend of “pro‑business” court decisions and struck a blow to unscrupulous tort reform legislation by issuing a landmark decision that preserves and protects the rights of injured railroad workers under the FELA. Norfolk Western Railroad v. Ayers, 538 U.S. 135 (2003).
Most recently, Bob obtained an appellate court decision in the State of Michigan beating back an attempt by the Canadian National Railroad to use federal preclusion to dismiss an employee’s injury claim. Trout v. Grand Trunk Western, 2014 WL 4792201 (Mich. Ct. App. Sept. 25, 2014).
In recent years, he has been a recognized leader in the railroad industry in the prosecution of whistleblower claims on behalf of employees falling within the new whistleblower protection provisions provided by Congress in 2007 under the Federal Rail Safety Act. His victories include returning numerous employees to work with back pay subsequent to illegal terminations and/or other adverse employment actions such as work suspensions following employee’s engagement in recognized protected activities, specifically the report of personal injuries and/or safety complaints. These victories have been against several Class 1 American railroads.
In late 2015, he and Bob Harrington, III tried and won the first known case arising under the employee protections of the Federal Rail Safety Act reversing railroad employee discipline subsequent to a good faith refusal not to perform an unsafe task. Laidler v. Canadian National, 2014-FRS-00099. In that case, a conductor was fired for refusing to perform an on the ground roll-by inspection of a passing train subsequent to his determination the ground conditions in the area where the roll-by needed to occur were unsafe. The railroad contested the claim on every issue and subsequent to a long protracted process an administrative law judge found it in violation of the Act, awarded the employee full back pay with interest along with $100,000.00 in punitive damages. In doing so, the judge called the railroad on-property investigation process “a sham” not designed to provide employees with a fair and just hearing on the merits.
Bob is licensed as an attorney in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio and he has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and in numerous federal district courts throughout the Midwest. He is a member of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), the Michigan Bar Association (MBA), and the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys (ARLA).
Prior to his successful and accomplished career as a personal injury lawyer, Bob was a trial attorney in the Murder Task Force for the Cook County Public Defender’s office, where he obtained invaluable experience as a trial lawyer and worked on some of the most difficult cases in the criminal justice system.
Bob is now well known in the railroad industry for his aggressive trial advocacy and his informative insight in appellate briefs. He has filed briefs on behalf of injured railroad workers in the United States Supreme Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Illinois Appellate Court, the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals in Ohio and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Seventh Circuit.
Bob graduated from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois and graduated at the top of his class from IIT Chicago Kent College of Law.
There is no doubt that Bob fully understands the devastating impact that work injuries can have upon an individual’s health and future. He also understands the significant impact that an injury can have on the family of a primary wage earner. A hallmark of his success is the fact that most of Bob’s new cases are referrals from former clients.
Bob is admitted in the following states and federal district and appellate courts:
- United States Supreme Court
- State of Illinois
- State of Michigan
- State of Ohio
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- Federal Trial Bar for Northern District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
- United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit