Stillman v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In Stillman v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 811 F.2d 834 (4th Cir. 1987), the plaintiff alleged that the lower court had erred by not allowing his counsel to inform the jury that "recovery under the FELA was Stillman's only possible remedy and that Stillman would receive no workers' compensation benefits." Stillman, supra, 811 F.2d at 838.

Stillman asserted that because the jury may have assumed that he had already received workers' compensation benefits, it may have been reluctant to award additional damages under the FELA. Id.

In rejecting Stillman's argument, the Fourth Circuit held:

We find this argument unpersuasive. Stillman's ineligibility for workers' compensation benefits was completely irrelevant to the issues presented in this case, and allowing the jury to consider such information could have prejudiced the Railroad. Moreover, we note that defendants in FELA cases are not permitted to inform the jury that a plaintiff has received benefits from a collateral source. We perceive no reason for a different rule when the plaintiff in a FELA case seeks to inform the jury of the absence of benefits from a collateral source. Id.