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Walters v. CSX Transporation, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

November 17, 2017

JEFFREY WALTERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATON, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Danny C. Reeves, United States District Judge

         This matter is pending for consideration of cross-motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Jeffrey Walters and Defendant CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSX”). [Record Nos. 52');">52; 56] CSX has also moved to exclude expert testimony. [Record No. 55] CSX argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because Walters has failed to produce evidence that demonstrates that CSX was negligent and because Walters has failed to produce evidence that he suffered any damage caused, in whole or in part, by the negligence of CSX. [Record No. 56-1, p. 4] CSX contends in its motion to exclude that the Court cannot rely on plaintiff's medical expert's testimony because Walters did not disclose to his expert any opinion that considers his decision to pursue surgery. [Record No. 55]

         Conversely, Walters contends that he is entitled to partial summary judgment because CSX breached its duty under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (”FELA”). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will deny Walters motion for partial summary judgment and CSX's motion to exclude expert testimony, and grant CSX's motion for summary judgment.

         I.

         Walters has been employed by CSX as a conductor since 2005. [Record No. 52');">52-1] He was called to report to work in the late evening on August 9, 2013. [Record No. 54-1, p. 84, lines 5-16] He reported to the Queensgate Yard, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, to receive his assignment. [Id. at p.84, lines 17-21] Once at the Queensgate Yard, Walters and crewmate Charlie Jones received their assignment to re-crew a train, which was located near a signal called Catawba, in Falmouth, Kentucky. [Record No. 53-1, p. 9, lines 19-24] Walters and Jones were transported to the train location in a vehicle owned and operated by Professional Transportation Inc. (“PTI”), hired by CSX to taxi its workers to various locations. [Id.; Record No. 52');">52-2] Approaching the rural drop-off location, the vehicle was required to traverse a single-lane wooden bridge and then make a sharp left turn onto a road that follows the train tracks. [Record No. 53-1, p. 9-10, lines 25-2; Record No. 54-1, p. 92, lines 17-19] This left turn led to a road which blended in with the front yard of a nearby house and with the gravel along the side of the road. [Record No. 53-1, p. 21, lines 4-10] The driver of the vehicle was unable to see the turn in time. The vehicle ran over an embankment when the driver finally executed the turn. [Id. at p. 10, lines 1-7] As a result of this accident, the plaintiff claims to have suffered injuries and brought this suit against CSX seeking damages. [Record No. 1]

         II.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine disputes regarding any material facts and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.p. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 17');">477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Chao v. Hall Holding Co., 15');">285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). A dispute over a material fact is not “genuine” unless a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. That is, the determination must be “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52');">52 (1986); see Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 516 (6th Cir. 2008).

         A party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating conclusively that no genuine issue of material fact exists. CenTra, Inc. v. Estrin, 538 F.3d 402, 412 (6th Cir. 2008). Once the moving party has met his burden of production, the nonmoving party must come forward with significant probative evidence to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Chao v. Hall Holding Co., 15');">285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). In deciding whether to grant summary judgment, the Court views all the facts and inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         III.

         Congress enacted FELA to provide a compensation scheme in response to concern over the number and severity of railroad employees' injuries. Norfolk Southern Ry. Co. v. Sorrell, 158');">549 U.S. 158, 165 (2007). “Unlike a typical workers' compensation scheme, which provides relief without regard to fault, Section 1 of FELA provides a statutory cause of action sounding in negligence.” Id.

         FELA provides, in part,

Every common carrier by railroad ... shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier ... resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employees of such carrier … .”

45 U.S.C. § 51.

         To present a prima facie case under FELA, a plaintiff must prove: (i) he was injured within the scope of his employment; (ii) his employment was in furtherance of his employer's interstate transportation business; (iii) his employer was negligent; and (iv) his employer's negligence played some part in causing the injury for which he seeks compensation under FELA. See Green v. River Terminal Ry. Co., 763 F.2d 805, 808 (6th Cir. 1985) ...


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