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McCain v. CSX Transportation

April 23, 2010

NORMAN MCCAIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 24) and Plaintiff's response thereto (doc. no. 25). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

For purposes of this motion, the facts cited below are either undisputed or viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

On January 27, 2006, Plaintiff Norman W. McCain ("Plaintiff") initiated this personal injury action against his employer Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc. ("Defendant"), after Plaintiff was injured during the scope of his employment, pursuant to the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60, the Federal Safety Appliance Acts, 45 U.S.C. §§ 1-16, and the Boiler Inspection Acts, 45 U.S.C. §§ 22-34.

Plaintiff seeks an award of $150,000 compensatory damages. See Pl.'s Compl.

In his complaint, Plaintiff alleges that while working as a machinist for Defendant, a common carrier by railroad operating a line and system of railroad throughout the United States, he was exposed to "excessive and harmful cumulative trauma to his knees, arms, and hands," allegedly resulting in occupational repetitive stress syndrome. See id. ¶¶ 4, 8; see also Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. B. 13:3-10, McCain Dep. (Plaintiff admitted that injuries are limited to his right knee).

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a machinist in Waycross, Georgia from approximately October 1969 through January 2005. See Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. ¶ 2. Further, Plaintiff alleges that his injuries were caused, in whole or in part, within the scope of his employment by Defendant's fourteen "negligent" acts, including but not limited to failure to provide: a safe place to work, timely and adequate ergonomics programs, periodic testing of physical effects of work, and adequate warning as to the hazardous working conditions. Id. ¶ 11.

On February 15, 2006, Defendant filed its answer, admitting Plaintiff's allegations in part and denying them in part. Defendant admits that it is a successor in interest to the Seasboard Coast Line Railroad and does business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. See Def.'s Answer ¶ 2. However, Defendant asserts affirmative defenses, including but not limited to, failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, contributory negligence, statute of limitations, statutory limitations of recovery under FELA, and improper venue.*fn1

On August 28, 2009, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, to which Plaintiff responded on September 11, 2009. See doc. nos. 24, 25, respectively. The issue is now properly before the Court.

II. JURISDICTION

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to the FELA, 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60,*fn2 the Federal Safety Appliances Act, 45 U.S.C. §§ 1-16, and the Boiler Inspection Acts, 45 U.S.C. §§ 22-34.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56

Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The "mere existence" of disputed facts will not result in denial of a motion for summary judgment; rather there must be "a genuine issue of material fact." Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-248 (1986)). A fact is "material" if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation and a dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248.

"After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Pignataro v. Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Reliance Ins. Co. v. Moessner, 121 F.3d 895, 900 (3d Cir. 1997)). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the non-moving party "may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading; rather its response must-by affidavits or as otherwise provided in [Rule 56]-set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).

Furthermore, in order for a court to grant summary judgment in a FELA negligence case, the defendant must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact on at least one of the required elements for negligence and that the issue should be resolved in its favor as a matter of law. See, e.g., Smolsky v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 780 F. Supp. 283, 290 (E.D. Pa. 1991); Lauria v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., No. 95-1561, 1997 WL 83767, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 20, 1997). "[A] FELA plaintiff need only present a minimum amount of evidence in order to defeat a summary judgment motion." Hines v. CONRAIL, 926 F.2d 262, 268 (3d Cir. 1991). Further, in FELA cases, summary judgment is appropriate "only in those extremely rare instances where there is zero probability either of employer negligence of that any such negligence contributed to the injury of an employee . . ." Id. (internal quotation omitted).

B. Federal Employers' Liability Act

FELA provides that "[e]very common carrier by railroad . . . shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier . . . for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any ...


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