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Moses v. Illinois Central Railroad Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah

October 11, 2018

WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER MOSES, PLAINTIFF
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Illinois Central Railroad Company's (“ICRR”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. [R. 17]. Plaintiff William Christopher Moses responded, [R. 24-1], and ICRR replied, [R. 26]. Fully briefed, this matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, ICRR's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, [R. 17], is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case centers around an incident that occurred on March 15, 2015 at a railroad freight yard operated by ICRR in Fulton, Kentucky. [R. 1-5 at 8 (First Amended Complaint); R. 17-1 at 2 (ICRR Motion Partial Sum. Judg.).] At the time of the incident, Plaintiff William Moses, the conductor, and Robert Upchurch, the engineer, were moving freight cars on to the proper tracks. [R. 23-5 at 2-3 (Upchurch Depo Excerpt); R. 17-1 at 2; R. 1-5 at 8-9.] This process involved Moses, located on the ground, giving commands by radio to Upchurch, located in the train's cab, to move the train forward or backward. [Id.] Moses's exact location and actions at the time of the incident are disputed by the parties. Due to his serious injury, Moses has little memory of the accident. However, he testified:

I was on the end of the car -- I was on the side of the car on the ladder. I don't know why I was on the ladder but I was on the ladder. My feet slipped off, I'm hanging by my arm, find myself on my knees and tried to get up and I'm hit.

[R. 17-3 at 3 (Moses Depo. Excerpt).] Josh Elliot, who was working in the yard office, caught a “glance” of the accident:

When I got there we were talking a little bit and then I heard a boom. Cars coupling up, rail cars it sounded like. And then I looked out -- we have a bay window. I looked out it and got a glance of what looked like Moses stumbling. And he was on the east side of the car. . . . So I walked outside the front door, our front door and walked down. There was a car -- a train parked on main two. . . . And then that's when I seen Moses laying there under the car.

[R. 17-4 at 2 (Elliot Depo. Excerpt).] In his First Amended Complaint, counsel for Moses alleged:

Mr. Moses was in the process of performing a shoving move. To accomplish this move, he positioned himself on the side ladder of a rail car. The engineer then shoved the cars. As Mr. Moses was standing on the ladder and using his radio to control the movement, his feet slipped from the ladder. His slip was caused by a combination of the slippery spillage he had accumulated on his boots and a defective condition in the portion of the ladder on which his feet were positioned. He was left hanging by his arms. The engineer stopped the movement. The slack action from the stop threw Mr. Moses forward and into the path of his moving equipment.

[R. 1-5 at 9.] ICRR disputes this account of the events.

         Moses experienced severe injuries due to the rail car running over him, including “multiple fractures to his spine, multiple fractures to his ribs, multiple fractures to his legs, a pneumothorax accompanied by acute respiratory failure, a closed head injury, internal injuries, permanent eye injuries, and other injuries.” [R. 1-5 at 9.]

         On August 1, 2018, ICRR filed the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment that is currently before the Court. [R. 17.]

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the record, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, reveals “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact exists where “there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court “may not make credibility determinations nor weigh the evidence when determining whether an issue of fact remains for trial.” Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 726 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Logan v. Denny's, Inc.,259 F.3d 558, 566 (6th Cir. 2001); Ahlers v. Schebil,188 F.3d 365, 369 (6th Cir. 1999)). “The ultimate question is ‘whether the evidence presents a sufficient ...


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