Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Higgins v. Consolidated Rail Corp.

November 21, 2008

JOHN HIGGINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION; AND CSX CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se*fn1 John Higgins ("Higgins") filed this action against his prior employers, Consolidated Rail Corporation and CSX Corporation (collectively "defendants"), under the Federal Employer's Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. § 51, et seq. (See Dkt. No. 3.) Higgins claims that defendants' negligence caused him to develop carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome. Pending is defendants' motion for summary judgment under FED. R. CIV. P. 56. (See Dkt. No. 27.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is denied.

II. Facts and Procedural History*fn2

Higgins began his employment with Conrail in 1990 as a brakeman operating out of northern New Jersey. (See Def. SMF ¶ 1; Dkt. No. 27.) Throughout his career, Higgins was employed by the defendants as a brakeman, conductor and engineer. (See Def. Ex. C at 35; Dkt. No. 27.)

From 2000 or 2001, he worked exclusively as a yard engineer, moving train cars in CSX's Selkirk Yard through use of a yard locomotive. See id. at 52. The locomotives were set up so that the engineer would operate the controls using his left hand. See id. at 40-41. Between operation of the throttle, brakes, bell, horn, light switches and valves, Higgins estimated that he would make hundreds to thousands of repetitive motions per shift with his left hand. See id. at 40-41, 52-53.

In August 2004 Higgins began to notice pain in his left wrist. Between February and April 2005, his treating physician, Dr. Reynaldo Lazaro ("Dr. Lazaro"), diagnosed him with work related carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes. (See Def. Exs. E, H; Dkt. No. 27.) In a subsequent report, ergonomics expert Dr. Stephen Morrissey ("Dr. Morrissey") also concluded that Higgins' carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes were caused by his exposure to ergonomic risk factors in the performance of his job functions. (See Def. Ex. I; Dkt. No. 27.) Defendants have countered with expert reports stating that the work conditions and responsibilities of a yard engineer are insufficient to cause Higgins' injuries. (See Def. SMF ¶¶ 16-24; Dkt. No. 27.) As a result of his disability, Higgins has not worked since March 2005. See id. at ¶ 7. He commenced this FELA action on June 5, 2006 and filed an amended complaint on July 7. (See Dkt. Nos. 1, 3.)

III. Standards of Review

A. Summary Judgment

The standard for the grant of summary judgment is well-established, and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard, the court refers the parties to its previous opinion in Bain v. Town of Argyle, 499 F. Supp. 2d 192, 194-95 (N.D.N.Y. 2007).

B. Federal Employers' Liability Act

FELA is a broad remedial statute that must be construed liberally in order to effectuate its purposes. Marchica v. Long Island R.R. Co., 31 F.3d 1197 (2d Cir.1994). Under FELA, a railroad engaged in interstate commerce is liable to "any person suffering injury while he is employed by [the railroad] ... for such injury ... resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of [the railroad]."

45 U.S.C. § 51. "FELA is not a strict liability statute, and the fact that an employee is injured is not proof of negligence." Williams v. Long Island R.R. Co., 196 F.3d 402, 406 (2d Cir. 1999). As such, a plaintiff must still "prove the common law elements of negligence: duty, breach, foreseeability, and causation." Tufariello v. Long Island R. Co., 458 F.3d 80, 87 (2d Cir. 2006). However, the Second Circuit "construes the statute, in light of its broad remedial nature, as creating a relaxed standard for negligence as well as causation." Williams, 196 F.3d at 406. Thus, "an employer may be held liable ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.