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April 9, 1996


The opinion of the court was delivered by: PADOVA


 Padova, J.

 April 9, 1996

 Plaintiff, John F. Walsh, filed a complaint against his former employer, Consolidated Rail Corporation ("Conrail"), under the Federal Employers Liability Act, 45 U.S.C.A. §§ 51-60 (West 1986 & Supp. 1995) ("FELA"), alleging Conrail's negligence caused him to suffer a stroke. Conrail now moves, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), for summary judgment. For the following reasons, I will deny Conrail's Motion.


 Walsh works as a train conductor for Conrail. On July 16, 1993, after a twelve hour shift, Walsh checked into a hotel in Newark, New Jersey. Later that night, Conrail phoned Walsh's hotel room to call him back to work. Shortly after the call, Walsh suffered a stroke. According to Walsh, Conrail knew, as early as 1991, that he suffered from hypertension. In spite of this physical impairment, Conrail continued to assign Walsh to stressful jobs, the exigencies of which were beyond his physical capacity. This allegedly aggravated his condition and increased the likelihood that he would suffer a stroke.


 When confronting a motion for summary judgment in a FELA case, the Court does not apply the usual standards articulated in Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The non-moving party can defeat a motion for summary judgment by presenting only a "minimum amount of evidence" in opposition to the motion; "[a] trial court is justified in withdrawing issues from the jury's consideration only in those extremely rare instances where there is a zero probability either of employer negligence or that any such negligence contributed to the injury of an employee." Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 268 (3d Cir. 1991) (citation omitted). FELA imposes a stringent duty of care. "Slight negligence, necessary to support a FELA action, is defined as a failure to exercise great care, and that burden of proof, obviously, is much less than the burden of proof required to sustain recovery in ordinary negligence actions." Boeing Co. v. Shipman, 411 F.2d 365, 371 (5th Cir. 1969) (citation omitted). See Moody v. Maine Cent. R.R. Co., 823 F.2d 693, 695 (1st Cir. 1987) (recognizing "the considerably relaxed standard of proof in FELA cases"). The employer's negligence need not be great:


The test of a jury case is simply whether the proofs justify with reason the conclusion that employer negligence played any part, even the slightest, in producing the injury or death for which damages are sought . . . . Judicial appraisal of the proofs to determine whether a jury question is presented is narrowly limited to the single inquiry whether, with reason, the conclusion may be drawn that negligence of the employer played any part at all in the injury.

 Rogers v. Missouri Pacific R.R. Co., 352 U.S. 500, 506-507, 77 S. Ct. 443, 448-449, 1 L. Ed. 2d 493 (1957).


 Conrail argues that Walsh has failed to produce any expert testimony indicating that the rigors of his work schedule caused his stroke. According to Conrail, Walsh's only evidence of negligence is that physicians, contracted by Conrail, qualified him to return to work on February 4, 1991, two years before his stroke. In support of its Motion, Conrail provided inter alia the following submissions: Walsh's Complaint; the "Expert Interrogatories Directed To Plaintiff;" a letter from Dr. Jerry Eric Goldstein, M.D. to Mr. Doran, Walsh's lawyer, discussing Dr. Goldstein's evaluation of Walsh's condition ("Goldstein Letter"); *fn1" and a transcript of Walsh's deposition. Walsh contends that the facts presented in the instant case invoke several possible theories of negligence, all of which illustrate that Conrail failed to provide a safe workplace. Walsh submits inter alia two Conrail "Requests for Medical Service and Medical Status Reports" dated February 4, 1991 and April 11, 1991 which qualify Walsh for work; a letter from Conrail's general attorney instructing that decisions on Walsh's qualification for employment should be made on a purely medical basis; the Goldstein Letter; and an affidavit signed by Dr. Goldstein reiterating his earlier conclusions.


 45 U.S.C.A. § 51 subjects "common carriers by railroad" to liability in damages to employees suffering injury in the course of their employment when the injury resulted "in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment." 45 U.S.C.A. § 51. The traditional common law negligence elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages apply in a FELA action. Capriotti v. Consol. Rail Corp., 878 F. Supp. 429, 431 (N.D.N.Y. 1995) (citations omitted). Viewing the submissions within the traditional negligence framework indicates Walsh has satisfied his relatively light burden of pointing to evidence that Conrail acted negligently.

 1. Duty

 Under FELA, Conrail owed Walsh several different duties: "[1] to exercise reasonable care in providing a reasonably safe place to work, reasonably safe conditions in which to work, and reasonably safe tools and equipment," Beeber v. Norfolk Southern Corp., 754 F. Supp. 1364, 1368 (N.D. Ind. 1990) (citation omitted); "[2] not to aggravate known disabilities in an employee by negligently assigning that employee to work which reasonable men would realize might aggravate his disability," Massimiani v. Monongahela Railway Co., 339 F. Supp. 832, 833 (W.D. Pa. 1972); "[3] to assign employees to work for which they are reasonably suited," Fletcher Union Pacific R.R. Co., 621 F.2d 902, 909 (8th Cir. 1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1110, 101 S. Ct. 918, 66 L. Ed. 2d 839 (1981); (4) to perform physical examinations in accordance with the relevant standards of care, id. (citation omitted); *fn2" and "[5] to provide a sufficient number of employees to perform assigned work." Beeber, 754 F. Supp. at 1372 (citation omitted).

 The theory of Walsh's case implicates several of the beforementioned duties. Specifically, Walsh argues Conrail inadequately staffed its operations, resulting in a more strenuous work schedule; contracted with physicians who failed to properly evaluate and treat his hypertension; and required him to perform work beyond his capacity and aggravated his hypertension, a known disability.

 2. Breach

 "An employer breaches its duty to provide a safe work place when it knows or should know of a potential hazard in the work place, yet fails to exercise reasonable care to inform and protect its employees." Gallose v. Long Island R.R. Co., 878 F.2d 80, 84-85 (2d Cir. 1989). "The catalyst which ignites this duty is knowledge, either actual or constructive. Thus, an employer is not liable if it has no reasonable way of knowing that a potential hazard exists." Id. at 85 (citation omitted). See also Fletcher, 621 F.2d at 909 (finding railroad breaches duty to assign employees to work for which they are reasonably suited when it negligently assigns an employee to perform work beyond his capacity; the employee need not show malpractice by the examining physician). Walsh can point to evidence that Conrail breached duties it owed to him as a Conrail employee.

 The Goldstein Letter states that Conrail knew of Walsh's hypertension and failed to properly treat it. According to the Goldstein Letter, Conrail qualified Walsh for work in spite of this disability. Specifically,


Mr. Walsh was known to be hypertensive by the Conrail physicians, yet his medical condition was ignored . . . . There were multiple such entries within the Conrail Medical records of elevated hypertensive blood pressure, all of which unfortunately were ignored and the obvious consequences ensued . . . . Despite Mr. Walsh being a hypertensive and not being referred for therapy, counseling, or further diagnostics, Mr. Walsh was fully qualified and required to work at full capacity at Conrail.

 Pl.'s Mem. Opp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. F ("Pl.'s Mem."). The Goldstein Letter indicates what course of action Conrail's physicians should have taken:


Even if the Conrail Medical physicians could not complete the basic work up themselves, they were obligated to refer the patient, Mr. Walsh, to another physician for a proper work up. None of this was accomplished by the Conrail physicians attending to Mr. Walsh . . . . Mr. Walsh should have been counseled about exercise, alcohol restriction, weight reduction, dietary salt restriction [etc.] . . . . Any reasonable physician, upon noting hypertension in a patient, would follow the accepted standard of medical care as clearly documented.

 Id. Walsh's deposition suggests other instances of breach. Walsh testified that on several occasions, his dispatcher would give him a "hard time" if Walsh complained that he did not feel physically fit to perform his duties. Walsh also stated that Conrail failed to hire necessary additional employees, despite the complaints of Walsh and his union that they were understaffed. See Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. E, at 32-37.

 3. Causation

 The conclusions reached in the Goldstein Letter suggest a sufficient nexus between Conrail's conduct and Walsh's injury to satisfy the relaxed standards of proof of causation associated with FELA cases. See Moody v. Maine Cent. R.R. Co., 823 F.2d 693, 695 (1st. Cir. 1987) (recognizing that "minimally adequate proof of causation" requires showing that employer negligence played even the slightest role in producing the injury). The Goldstein Letter attributes Walsh's injuries to certain acts and omissions by Conrail:


It is my professional opinion and with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Mr. Walsh sustained a stroke as a direct result of his unaddressed hypertension well known to Conrail physicians who consistently examined him periodically and recorded his hypertensive blood pressure while never addressing it . . . . Mr. Walsh's stroke and subsequent permanent disability would not have occurred had he been offered the accepted medical standard of care for hypertension work up and counseling therapy which was not offered to him by the Conrail Medical Physicians.

 Pl.'s Mem. Ex. D. Walsh also submitted an affidavit from Dr. Goldstein verifying the conclusions reached in the Goldstein Letter. *fn3"

 4. Injury

 The record contains evidence illustrating Walsh has suffered an injury. The Goldstein letter states, "Mr. Walsh suffered a life threatening and permanent injury in the form of a cerebral vascular accident (stroke) as a result of the Conrail physicians ignoring of Mr. Walsh's hypertension." Pl.'s Mem. Ex. D.


 In enacting FELA, the United States Congress intended to increase the probability that injured workers could present their cases to juries. Hines v. Consol. Rail Corp., 926 F.2d 262, 269 (3d Cir. 1991) (noting Congressional intent to "'secure jury determinations in a larger proportion of cases than would be true of ordinary common law actions.' Indeed, jury determinations were intended to be part of the FELA remedy") (citations omitted). An analysis of FELA cases reveals a strong tendency to reserve certain issues for jury resolution. Courts have specifically described the following matters as jury questions: "[1] whether the railroad used reasonable care in furnishing its employees a safe place to work," Gallose, 878 F.2d at 85; "[2] whether the assignment was negligent," Fletcher, 621 F.2d at 909; (3) whether the doctors who qualified Plaintiff were Defendant's "employees," Dunn v. Conemaugh & Black Lick R.R., 267 F.2d 571, 576 (3d Cir. 1959); and (4) whether the employer forced the employee to perform tasks beyond the employee's capabilities. Id. See also Hines, 926 F.2d at 267 (noting "there can be a jury question of causation when there is evidence that any employer negligence caused the harm, or, more precisely, enough to justify a jury's determination that employer negligence had played any role in producing the harm").

 In the instant case, questions of fact remain which courts consider the exclusive province of a jury. *fn4" Accordingly, Conrail's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be denied.

 An appropriate Order follows.


 AND NOW, this 9th day of April, 1996, upon consideration of the Motion For Summary Judgment of Defendant Consolidated Rail Corporation (Doc. No. 11); and Plaintiff's Response and Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 12), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

 1. Defendant's Motion is DENIED.


 John R. Padova, J.

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