Nebraska Supreme Court Rules Portion of Jury Award Taxable in Railroad Injury Case
In 2004, Eddie Heckman of Alliance was injured while working for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. In 2011, Heckman was awarded $145,000.00 by a jury for his injuries. Although the award was paid by the railroad, $6,200.00 was deducted for tax withholdings for the lost wages portion of the award. Although the Box Butte County judge ordered the railroad to pay the award, and asked both sides to agree in writing that no amount of the award was considered wages, the railroad appealed. The Justice Department filed an Amicus Brief as it alleged the ruling interfered with federal tax collection under the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974.
Heckman argued that the award had not been allocated, however the Supreme Court disagreed as lost wages were claimed in the lawsuit. The Supreme Court found no authority to order the railroad to agree to an allocation of the settlement post-verdict.