Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hunt v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

January 6, 2020

RICHARD HUNT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Joseph F. Bataillon Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to the motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, Filing No. 20, filed by the defendant. Plaintiff sued his former employer, Union Pacific, under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51 alleging that occupational exposures caused his cancer, in particular chronic lymphocytic leukemia (“CLL”) and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Plaintiff allegedly waited six years after his cancer diagnosis to file this lawsuit. Defendant contends the statute of limitations has run.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         “Summary judgment is appropriate 'if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."' Foster v. BNSF Ry. Co., 866 F.3d 962, 966 (8th Cir.2017) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). "Summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed 'to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action."' Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

         “The movant bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, 'and must identify those portions of the record] . . . which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact."' Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042, (8th Cir. 20ll) (en banc) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323). If the movant meets the initial burden, "the nonmovant must respond by submitting evidentiary materials that set out 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."' Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324). "The nonmovant 'must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,' and must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."' Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmovant's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [nonmovant]." Barber v. Cl Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d 782, 791-92 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, lnc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)).

         DISCUSSION

         The statute of limitations for Hunt's FELA claim is three years. White v. Union Pacific R.R., 867 F.3d 997, 1001 (8th Cir. 2017) (citing 45 U.S.C. § 56). In cases involving latent injuries, such as cancer, “the cause of action does not accrue until the employee is aware or should be aware of his condition.” Id. “[T]he employee must also know-or have reason to know-the condition's cause.” Id. The inquiry becomes “when the plaintiff knew or should have known, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the essential facts of injury and cause.” Id.

         Defendant contends that plaintiff knew of his cancer diagnosis more than three years prior to filing the lawsuit, as he was diagnosed in February 2011 and he filed on July 10, 2017. Further, plaintiff admitted he believed his employment with defendant may have contributed to his cancer. Hunt Dep., Ex. 1, at 103:10-22.

         Plaintiff argues that defendant cannot show that his claim falls outside of the three-year statute of limitations, as that is a question of fact to be determined by a jury. First, plaintiff denies that he believed the exhaust could cause cancer. When asked in his deposition if he believed the diesel exhaust could cause cancer, plaintiff stated, “I never thought about it. It wasn't in my thinking at all.” Filing No. 21, (Hunt Dep., Ex. 1, at 93:23-94:2.). However, plaintiff testified that:

Q. So is it fair to say that during your career, you accumulated knowledge that you may have been exposed to chemicals, and exhaust, and dust that could be harmful to your health?
A. Yeah.

(Hunt Dep., Ex. 1, at 108:17-21.) Plaintiff likewise testified that:

Q. So is it fair to say, from the date of diagnosis, that you kind of thought that the Railroad was a potential ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.