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Guerrieri v. Metra

October 29, 2007

JOSEPH GUERRIERI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
METRA AND NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Harry D. Leinenweber

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Joseph Guerrieri (hereinafter, "Guerrieri" or "Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendants Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation (hereinafter, "Metra") and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (hereinafter, "Amtrak") pursuant to the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60.

Plaintiff alleges that while working within the scope of his employment for Defendants, he was exposed to cumulative trauma to his hip, which ultimately resulted in hip replacement surgery. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' negligence caused his injuries, and that this negligence consisted in, among other things, failing to provide a safe workplace, failing to warn of risks of repetitive trauma, failing to provide an adequate ergonomics program, failing to periodically test employees such as Plaintiff for repetitive trauma, and failing to promulgate safety rules or provide protective equipment. See Compl. ¶ 13.

Defendants Metra and Amtrak have filed separate Motions for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff has opposed the motions and submitted (after the Court's discovery deadline of May 7, 2007) an expert report and letter in support. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment are GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

As an initial matter, Plaintiff's counsel's Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) statements fail to comply with the rule's requirement that the response contain "specific references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). Plaintiff's counsel has also failed to include in his Statement of Facts "a statement, consisting of short numbered paragraphs, of any additional facts that require the denial of summary judgment, including references to the affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C). Instead, counsel has simply reproduced within the body of his memorandum of law opposing Metra's motion for summary judgment over a dozen pages of Guerrieri's deposition. In his memorandum of law opposing Amtrak's motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff's counsel has reproduced portions of Plaintiff's deposition and portions of his expert report.

In this Court, "Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B) 'provides the only acceptable means of . . . presenting additional facts.'" Malec v. Sanford, 191 F.R.D. 581, 584 (N.D. Ill. 2000) (quoting Midwest Imports, Ltd. v. Coval, 71 F.3d 1311, 1317 (7th Cir. 1995)) (emphasis in Malec). Thus, the Court sets forth only the undisputed facts culled from Defendants' Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) statements, which are either admitted by Plaintiff in his Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) statement or deemed admitted due to Plaintiff's failure to controvert them. (Even were the Court to consider the additional facts presented in Plaintiff's memorandum opposing Metra's motion for summary judgment, Defendants would still be entitled to summary judgment. See infra pp. 9-11.)

Guerrieri is currently a Metra employee who worked full-time as an electrician for Amtrak from August 1990 until October 14, 1996, when he began working full-time as an electrician for Metra. While employed by Amtrak, Guerrieri worked on passenger railroad cars at Amtrak's 14th Street maintenance facility and its Brighton Park facility. The majority of Guerrieri's work at Amtrak consisted of working on refrigeration units on the single level dining cars, where he would sit on a stool alongside the car as the units were located on the outside of the cars. On the Superliner cars, Guerrieri would work inside the galley while standing straight on a five-foot step ladder, facing his work and not twisted in an awkward position. The heaviest item that Guerrieri had to lift while working on refrigeration units at Amtrak's Brighton Park facility was a 30-pound jug of Freon. At the 14th Street maintenance facility, Guerrieri performed "yard cuts," the process of disconnecting the cables that join the railroad cars and separating the cars from each other. While doing yard cuts, Guerrieri did not have to climb up into any of the cars; instead, he stood at ground level, either on the platforms or on ballast.

Working on refrigeration units was a one-person job, for which Guerrieri did not need anyone else's help. When Guerrieri asked for help in doing his job at Amtrak, he was never denied help. There was no equipment Guerrieri thought he needed that he did not have. Guerrieri never made any complaints to his supervisors at Amtrak that his job was too hard for him. Guerrieri does not recollect anything about his job at Amtrak that he felt was unsafe. He never felt pain or discomfort in his hip while working at Amtrak.

Guerrieri began working for Metra at its Western Avenue facility on October 14, 1996. His job duties included performing yard cuts, separating the cars, connecting and disconnecting cables between the cars, hooking up ground power to the train, inspecting the rail cars to ensure that the heating and electrical systems were in proper working condition, and repairing any electrical defects discovered.

Guerrieri first recalled experiencing extreme pain in his hip in 2004. He saw his primary care physician, Dr. Winiecki, who referred him to Dr. Karlsson for further evaluation of his hip. On or about July 27, 2004, Guerrieri saw Dr. Karlsson, who dictated a note stating that he "has limitations in activities of daily living and has had problems with work. It has gradually been getting worse over the last couple of years." Metra's Statement of Facts ¶ 23. Guerrieri does not recall whether Dr. Karlsson expressed an opinion as to whether his hip problems had anything to do with his employment. Guerrieri underwent a hip replacement surgery in October 2004 and remained on crutches for three months afterwards. He returned to work on March 1, 2005. During his medical leave of absence from employment at Metra, Guerrieri did not think that his hip injuries were caused by or related to his employment. Id. ¶ 28.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A fact is material if it could affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and a dispute is genuine where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

The Court must view all the evidence and any reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Miller v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 997, 1003 (7th Cir. 2000). However, "an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule, must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse ...


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