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Willis Allen York v. Union Pacific Company PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Gordon   
Sunday, 31 January 2010 19:25

Case Name: Willis Allen York v. Union Pacific Railroad Company
Date Decided: January 15, 2010
Court: U.S.D.C. Nebraska
Judge: Judge Strom
Citation: 2010 WL 274996 (D.Neb.)

Plaintiff, Willis York, filed this action under FELA, Federal Employers’ Liability Act, alleging he suffered cumulative trauma injuries while employed by Union Pacific Railroad Company.

York worked for UP as a mechanic and later as a shop machinist. York claimed he was exposed to various ergonomic risk factors during his employment and exposure resulted in cumulative trauma injuries to his knees and hip.

York filed this action under FELA and the LIA, Locomotive Inspection Act, alleging that UP failed to provide him with a safe place to work and under LIA for failing to provide a locomotive that was in safe and proper condition and that the locomotive caused his harmful trauma.

UP filed for summary judgment on both the FELA and LIA claims.

Did this Court grant UP’s motion for summary judgment?

This Court recognized that to prevail on a FELA claim, York had to show the common law elements of negligence. Furthermore, Nebraska courts require a plaintiff to offer medical expert testimony to establish causation in a FELA case where symptoms of the claimed injury are subjective.

Here, York has yet to provide any expert report or testimony otherwise from his medical experts and counted on introducing them at trial. Because York has failed to offer expert reports opining on the issue of medical causation, this Court found that the experts would not be permitted to testify on the issue of medical causation at trial. Accordingly, with York being able to prove causation, this Court granted UP’s motion for summary judgment on York’s FELA claim.

Moreover, to recover under the LIA, this Court stated York must show that he suffered an injury resulting in whole or in part from the violation. However, like the FELA claim, York has failed to submit any evidence pointing to causation.

Accordingly UP’s motion for summary judgment regarding an alleged violation of the LIA was granted.

This case illustrates the importance of establishing medical causation from the railroad employer’s negligence under FELA or that an LIA violation played a part or was fully responsible for plaintiff’s injuries.

Most states require some kind of medical testimony showing causation between negligence/violations and plaintiff’s injuries.

Steve Gordon  


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