The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT J. WARD
These are the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Rule 52, Fed. R. Civ. P.
At all times relevant, Louis J. Grano ("Grano") was employed by defendant as a signal maintainer; Herbert Buchbinder ("Buchbinder") was employed by defendant as a signalman; Pieter V. Cortelyou ("Cortelyou") was employed by defendant as a signal maintainer; and Sam Raccioppi ("Raccioppi") was employed by defendant as a signal inspector.
In 1989, the LIRR Safety Department first distributed an informational pamphlet published by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services entitled "Lyme Disease" (Defendant's Exhibit B), and a poster containing a blowup of a Newsday article concerning Lyme Disease (Defendant's Exhibit C). These materials were distributed to employees of the LIRR Signal Department, among others.
II. The Court's Findings of Fact: Liability
During 1987, Grano was engaged in an electrification project at various work sites between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma in Suffolk County. For the most part, his duties involved the installation of new signal equipment which was placed in uncultivated areas along the railroad right of way.
In the spring and summer of 1987, his work clothes included jeans, boots and short-sleeved shirts. On many occasions, he observed ticks at the work sites. Grano observed ticks on himself approximately 25 to 100 times although he did not recall having been bitten on any occasion. He specifically remembered that once, in the vicinity of Central Islip, while working with plaintiff Raccioppi, numerous ticks were encountered.
Prior to beginning his work assignment in 1987, he received no instructions concerning ticks or the removal of growth in the areas where he would be working. Although the railroad sprayed defoliants along the roadbed, the spray only reached approximately 12 feet from track center. The signal equipment was located more than five feet further from track center. Grano was given no cutting or defoliation equipment.
At some point in the summer of 1987, Grano observed a rash on his right elbow and later experienced flu-like symptoms. In November 1987, he sought medical attention for these symptoms, as well as for aches and memory loss, which began during the summer. He went to Stony Brook Hospital, and a blood test was administered, after which he received oral antibiotics. His symptoms became worse and included achiness, fevers, headaches, and memory problems. Grano was first diagnosed as having Lyme Disease at Stony Brook Hospital by Dr. Dattwyler. He developed emotional problems, for which he saw Dr. LaGrone. His condition interfered with his work and he was out sick for several weeks. During that time he started intravenous treatment beginning with one night in the hospital, and then two weeks at home.
In November 1987, he lost two to three weeks from work and in January 1988 he was out for a period which ended in the latter part of April or early May 1988. Later in 1988 he returned to the Stony Brook Hospital because he "didn't feel right."
In December 1989, he saw Dr. Burrascano, who advised him that he needed more intravenous treatment. After his second week of treatment he had a high fever and tingling in his skin, but after approximately seven weeks felt "really good."
He was away from work from January 1990 until late April or early May of that year, at which time he returned to work. Thereafter, he lost one or two days as a result of Herxheimer reaction, for which he was given oral antibiotics.
At the end of 1990 he saw Dr. Larry Weiss for emotional problems.
At the present time, his complaints include swelling of his knees, some aches and some memory loss. He finds that he now needs additional rest.
Grano's wife Denise noted an extreme change in his behavior in the summer of 1988 when he became "very emotional."
During the last 6 to 12 months, she observed that her husband's neck was swollen and he complained on occasion that his arm gets stiff.
The Court finds that Grano contracted Lyme Disease in the summer of 1987 while working on the LIRR electrification project.