Illinois Railroad Worker’s Medical Experts Unable To Connect Cumulative Trauma Injury – Myers v. Illinois Central Railroad Co.

A former railroad worker found not able to pursue his Illinois railroad litigation case because his testifying medical experts were unable to identify the specific cause of the his injuries. The Illinois railroad litigation case was dismissed by the district court, a decision that was then affirmed at the appellate level in the case of Myers v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., d/b/a Canadian National/Illinois Central Railroad Co., No. 10-1279.

Timothy Myers, the 50 year-old plaintiff, had worked for the Illinois Central Railroad for 30 years as a brakeman, switchman, and conductor before retiring. He brought the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) lawsuit to recover damages for injuries he suffered from cumulative trauma sustained by his elbow, knee, neck and back.

Myers based his FELA lawsuit on reports from three doctors and an ergonomist that opined that his injuries were caused by the railroad’s negligence. However, the court did not consider any of this expert testimony when ruling on the railroad’s motion to dismiss the case. As a result, the court granted a summary judgment in favor of the Illinois Central Railroad, a decision which Myers sought to have appealed by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

However, the appellate court did not side with Myers, but instead affirmed the lower court’s decision to dismiss Myer’s FELA case. In its decision, the appellate court stated that “the nature of the trauma injuries that Myers accumulated required expert testimony establishing specific causation.” And while Myers did provide expert testimony, both the district and appeals courts found the nature of this testimony problematic.

In the district case, the judge had barred the four plaintiff experts under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), based on his assessment that the proposed opinions were not based on reliable methods or procedures. Likewise, the appeals decision stated that the physicians were simply those that treated Myers and assumed his injuries stemmed from work.

Therefore, the appellate court agreed that the Daubert decision was correctly applied to the facts in this case. Furthermore, the nature of “the physicians’ deposition testimonies made it clear that they were clearly offering something less than a causation opinion that could qualify under Daubert.” Therefore, the plaintiff lacked any evidence of causation and therefore cannot bring a claim under FELA.

Kreisman Law Offices have been handling Illinois railroad FELA cases for over 35 years in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas including, Bolingbrook, Wheaton, Willowbrook, Mundelein, Glenview and Addison.

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