EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, District Judge.
Plaintiff, Horace Lowman, alleges that he was exposed to asbestos while working for CSX Transportation ("CSX") as a sheetmetal worker from 1963 to 1969 at Defendant's Waycross, Georgia facility. The alleged exposure occurred while Plaintiff was removing and repairing pipe insulation on coaches and locomotives.
Plaintiff brought claims against CSX pursuant to the Federal Employer's Liability Act ("FELA") and the Locomotive Inspection Act ("LIA"), asserting that he developed asbestosrelated lung cancer through his employment with CSX. Defendant CSX moved for partial summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claims under the LIA, arguing that (1) the exposures occurred while the train was not "in use" as contemplated by the LIA; and (2) the exposures did not stem from a "defective condition" on the train as contemplated by the LIA.
By order dated November 18, 2010, this Court referred the matter to the Honorable Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell to supervise discovery and prepare the case for trial. On February 22, 2013, Judge Angell issued a report and recommendation regarding Defendant's partial motion for summary judgment ("R&R"). Judge Angell recommended that CSX's motion be denied because it had not established it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Specifically, Judge Angell noted that CSX "had not established that the locomotives were not `in use' where Plaintiff had testified that he performed repairs on trains which were on the road, and not in an engine house or maintenance facility."
On March 7, 2013, CSX filed objections to Judge Angell's R&R (the "Objections"). Specifically, CSX avers that Judge Angell (1) failed to consider Congressional intent that a railroad should have an opportunity to remedy defective conditions before incurring LIA "strict liability"; (2) failed to consider the activity in which Plaintiff was engaged in when he was injured when she conducted the "in use" analysis; and (3) failed to consider whether the asbestos-containing products were "defects" under the LIA, especially in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in
The Court undertakes a
Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by `the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact."
In undertaking this analysis, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. "After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party."
"The [LIA] . . . is to be liberally construed in the light of its prime purpose, the protection of employees and others by requiring the use of safe equipment."
Liability under the LIA only exists if the locomotive was "in use" at the time of the accident.
Defendant asserts that Plaintiff must demonstrate the following to impose "strict liability" on CSX under the LIA:
As to the first prong, Defendant asserts that an injury occurring while a locomotive is being serviced or repaired is not "in use" as contemplated under the LIA. Defendant also alleges that it was the intent of Congress to not impose liability under the LIA "when the railroad is in the process of repairing the defect at issue."
As to the second prong, Defendant cites to a Missouri Supreme Court case which held that a plaintiff "must introduce substantial evidence of a defect" to recover under the LIA.
Plaintiff asserts that the locomotive was "in use" at the time of the injury. Plaintiff points to the following exchange in support of his argument:
Plaintiff asserts that the defect in the locomotive "was the use of asbestos-containing products when the Defendant knew of the hazards to its workers."
Magistrate Judge Angell found that a "locomotive may be in use even though it is motionless when the accident occurred." This Court agrees with the finding of Judge Angell. Here, Plaintiff clearly testified that he made repairs
Similarly, the Court is not persuaded that
Here, CSX has not established that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.