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Hampton Obtains Summary Judgment on Behalf of Railroad Defendant in Cumulative Trauma Case

Burns White attorney Dan Hampton won a summary judgement on behalf of a Railroad Defendant in a case filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Plaintiff, a railroad trackman/machine operator, alleged in his lawsuit that he developed cumulative trauma injuries to his neck, as a result of exposure to whole body vibration and awkward posture while operating railroad maintenance equipment during his railroad employment. Plaintiff retained an expert in occupational medicine and whole body vibration exposure, who opined that Plaintiff’s work for the railroad caused his neck injury.

Hampton argued that the opinions of Plaintiff’s expert failed to comply with the requirements for the admissibility of expert testimony set forth in Federal Rule of Evidence 702, and in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Daubert v. Merrill Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and that his testimony should be excluded. Without admissible expert evidence of medical causation, Hampton argued that Plaintiff had failed to establish each of the elements of FELA negligence, and that summary judgment was warranted.

The Court found that the expert had failed to cite any scientific literature in support of his opinion that Plaintiff’s specific neck injuries were caused by whole body vibration exposure, and that his conclusions were not based on good grounds. The Court further found that the expert had relied upon information obtained from Plaintiff, but that he had not conducted any observations, tests, or measurements of his own, in order to corroborate Plaintiff’s claims. The Court found that the expert’s opinions failed to comply with the fitness and reliability requirements of Rule 702 and Daubert, and the opinions were therefore inadmissible. The Court found that, because Plaintiff had failed to produce admissible evidence of medical causation, he had also failed to prove the element of causation required for a cognizable FELA claim, and the Court entered summary judgment in favor of the railroad defendant.