High Court says Alliance railroader has to pay taxes

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Supreme Court says a lower court judge was wrong to order BNSF Railroad to pay the full amount awarded to a former railroad worker by a jury, without deducting federal railroad retirement taxes.

Eddie Heckman, of Alliance, was injured on the job and sued the railroad in 2004. He was awarded $145,000 in 2011. BNSF paid the award, but deducted $6,200 to cover Heckman's federal railroad retirement tax withholding.

Heckman objected, and a Box Butte County judge ordered BNSF to pay Heckman the $6,200, saying the award was not compensation for lost wages.

On Friday, the state's high court reversed that ruling, saying that when at least part of a jury award is for lost wages, the whole verdict is considered pay and, therefore, subject to the tax.

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