LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

Railroads • Federal Employers’ Liability Act • Statute of Limitations • Negligence • Summary Judgment

Grosklos v. York Railway Co., PICS Case No. 14-0316 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 18, 2014) Jones, J. (13 pages).

Where there exists an issue of material fact as to whether a complained-of injury in a FELA claim arose from work-related activities in the form of degenerative joint disease or from a specific accident that was time barred under the statute of limitations, summary judgment was improper. Denied.

Plaintiff Philip Grosklos filed this FELA claim against defendant York Railway, alleging injuries to his knees and back as a result of his employment with defendant. Defendant filed the motion for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff’s claims for his injuries to his left knee and back were barred under the statute of limitations, and that the injury to his right knee wasn’t sustained until after the termination of plaintiff’s employment with defendant.

The court held that plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence to raise issues of material fact that his injuries arose as a result of his employment with defendant and that his claims were not barred under the statute of limitations.

As to plaintiff’s left knee and back, the court found that although plaintiff suffered accidents to his knee and back while working for defendant that occurred more than six and three years before this action, respectively, plaintiff produced an opinion from his medical expert that plaintiff’s injuries arose in part from work-related injuries that resulted from degenerative joint disease that was distinct and separate from the injuries sustained in the above accidents. Consequently, the court held that plaintiff’s evidence raised issues of material fact as to whether plaintiff’s current injuries were the continuation of time-barred injuries or was an injury that existed on its own and was discovered within the three years prior to the instant action.

The court also found that an issue of material fact existed as to the causation of the injury to plaintiff’s right knee. Although plaintiff suffered an accident to his right knee outside of his employment with defendant, plaintiff’s medical expert opined that plaintiff’s injury was attributable, in part, to degenerative joint disease caused by work-related activities. As a result, the court ruled that it could not, as a matter of law, find that no reasonable jury could side with the plaintiff.