Rail union head got FELA kickbacks

“The president of the United Transportation Union pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy on Thursday, admitting that he solicited bribes from lawyers trying to get access to lucrative legal work for rail workers.” In a scheme that dated back to 1995, Byron Boyd and three other officials of the Cleveland-based union “solicited cash from lawyers who wished to represent injured rail workers in personal injury lawsuits against rail employers. Those are potentially very lucrative suits since there is no limit to legal damages under federal law. … The men got at least $477,000 in cash”. (“Transportation Union Chief Admits to Racketeering”, Reuters, Mar. 12). “U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby said a scheme like the one Boyd was involved in is not uncommon in labor unions and the federal government will continue to investigate such schemes. … The case was handled out of Texas because five of the lawyers that paid money as part of the scheme were from the Houston area and they cooperated with prosecutors, Shelby said.” (Juan Lozano, “Union president pleads guilty to labor racketeering”, AP/Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar. 11). Railway workers are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), which affords more lucrative recoveries than does workers’ compensation law; they have also been major filers of asbestos claims.

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