George H. Ritter and Charles H. Russell, III represented Illinois Central Railroad in a Federal Employers Liabilaity Act (FELA) suit brought by a retired track inspector.

The plaintiff claimed that his job required the repetitive use of vibrating tools, that the Railroad didn’t tell him of the risks of carpal tunnel syndrome or provide him with safer tools, and that therefore the railroad negligently caused his carpal tunnel syndrome by failing to provide a safe work environment.

To do this, the plaintiff sought to introduce the testimony of the doctor who performed the surgery to correct his carpal tunnel syndrome, and of an ergonomist who inspected the plaintiff’s tools and work environment.

Mr. Ritter and Mr. Russell issued a Daubert challenge to exclude both experts’ testimony, arguing that their opinions were not based on science and were therefore unreliable. The court agreed, finding that the plaintiff’s doctor had not done any tests to determine a connection between the plaintiff’s work and his carpal tunnel syndrome.

The court excluded the ergonomist’s testimony because, while he identified risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome, the ergonomist had no evidence of how much exposure to these risk factors could cause carpal tunnel syndrome. The court therefore excluded the testimony of both witnesses because their conclusions were merely personal opinions and not based on any scientific methodology.

Since the plaintiff no longer had any evidence of causation or foreseeability, and since he offered no evidence of what constituted a safe or unsafe work environment, he was unable to meet his burden of proving the railroad liable for his injuries. Mr. Ritter’s and Mr. Russell’s motion for summary judgment was therefore granted in favor of Illinois Central and the case dismissed.

NO. CIV.A. 3:06-CV-00177
February 26, 2008 and
NO. CIV.A. 3:06-CV-00177-HTWLRA
March 27, 2008

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