Railroad Company Obtains Summary Judgment on Appeal Based on Inadmissible Expert Report Supreme Court of Mississippi, December 10, 2015

The plaintiff in this case brought a wrongful death action against the Illinois Central Railroad Company pursuant to the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) for the death of her husband, Charles Jackson, Jr., who had worked on the railroad. Illinois Central’s motions for summary judgment, to strike the plaintiff’s expert, Michael J. Ellenbecker, were denied. Illinois Central’s petition for an interlocutory appeal was granted. In its review, the court found that Ellenbecker’s opinions submitted in opposition of the motion for summary judgment was inadmissible since…
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Release Agreement in Prior Claim Does Not Bar Future FELA Claim U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, September 17, 2015

Plaintiff Roger Lee Hindle was a railroad employee who developed lung cancer and brought a suit under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), alleging that his exposure to asbestos caused him to develop the condition. The plaintiff had previously brought a claim against the same railroad defendants for hearing loss; in settling the previous claim, he signed a Release Agreement discharging them from any and all losses, known or unknown, including cancer. The railroad defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that this release barred the…
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Railroad Companies Awarded Dismissals for Plaintiffs’ Failure to Properly Plead Successor-In-Interest Liability Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle, July 13, 2015

In these actions, plaintiffs Dennis Franco and James Nelson claimed exposure to asbestos while working, respectively, as a track repairman for the Reading Company and as a machinist for Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). Defendants CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway are successor-in-interest to Reading and Conrail and moved to dismiss several of the plaintiffs’ claims, including common-law negligence and premises liability, arguing that the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) provides the exclusive remedy to railroad carrier employees who suffer work-related injuries resulting from the employer’s…
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Court Analyzes Damages Under FELA Supreme Court of Tennessee, at Knoxville, July 1, 2015

In this case, a railroad worker who was diagnosed with lung cancer filed suit under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) alleging the railroad had exposed him to asbestos as well as other hazardous materials. The jury awarded $8.6 million, finding the railroad negligent and negligent per se, but it also found the decedent was 62 percent at fault due to his smoking history. Following the return of the verdict, the trial court instructed the jury that because of its finding that the railroad had…
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California Court Rejects Plaintiffs’ Expert Opinion and Grants Railroad Summary Judgment Under FELA on Lack of Causation Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Four, June 24, 2015

In this California case, the decedent was allegedly exposed to asbestos while working for a railroad as a switchman, conductor, and brakeman, later developing mesothelioma. Specifically, the decedent claimed exposure was from changing railcar brake shoes, being in the vicinity of insulation removal from refrigerator cars, and staying in a boarding house run by the railroad that had insulation-covered pipes in the room where he slept. The defendant railroad moved for summary judgment, arguing “that plaintiffs were required but failed to prove negligence under FELA,…
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FELA Asbestos Verdict Upheld on Appeal, Rejecting Defendant’s Challenge to Lack of Evidence of Negligence and Charge on Preexisting Injury Appellate Court of Illinois, March 17, 2015

The plaintiff brought this action claiming that the decedent’s work as a laborer and machinist for Illinois Central and its predecessor caused him to be exposed to asbestos and to develop lung cancer. After the jury awarded $2.6 million, with a 45 percent reduction for smoking, the defendant, Illinois Central, appealed, arguing it was not negligent and that the trial court should not have charged the jury on aggravation of a preexisting condition related to the decedent’s smoking. On appeal, the court rejected the argument…
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