482 F.3d 866 (6th Cir. 2007), 05-4377, Fielden v. CSX Transp., Inc.

Docket Nº:05-4377.
Citation:482 F.3d 866
Party Name:Jesse A. FIELDEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:April 06, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 866

482 F.3d 866 (6th Cir. 2007)

Jesse A. FIELDEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,


CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant-Appellee.

No. 05-4377.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

April 6, 2007

Argued: Jan. 24, 2007.

Page 867


Thomas H. Peyton, Peyton Law Firm, Nitro, West Virginia, for Appellant.

Ira L. Podheiser, Burns, White & Hickton, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Appellee.


Thomas H. Peyton, Peyton Law Firm, Nitro, West Virginia, for Appellant.

Ira L. Podheiser, Daniel J. Hampton, Burns, White & Hickton, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Appellee.

Before SILER, GIBBONS, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.


ROGERS, Circuit Judge.

This appeal concerns the scope of the expert report requirement of Rule 26(a)(2)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In particular, the issue is whether a plaintiff pursuing a claim under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq., must file an expert report before the plaintiff's treating physician can testify as to the cause of the plaintiff's carpal tunnel syndrome. In this case, Jesse Fielden did not file a timely expert report from his treating physician about the cause of Fielden's carpal tunnel syndrome. The district court held that Rule 26(a)(2)(B) required the filing of the expert report and refused to consider the treating physician's testimony that Fielden's use of a "plate jack" while working at CSX Transportation caused Fielden's carpal tunnel syndrome. Without the treating physician's testimony, there was no expert evidence that CSX Transportation caused Fielden's injury, and the district court therefore granted summary judgment for the defendant. Because Rule 26(a)(2)(B) did not require the filing of an expert report in this case, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment.

In 1976, Fielden began working in the railroad industry, and, after brief stints in other jobs, began working as a trackman and equipment operator at CSX Transportation, Inc. ("CSXT"), an interstate railroad company, on June 1, 1999. In 2000, Fielden complained of numbness and tingling in his arms and fingers, and a law firm referred Fielden to Dr. Mark Woodward, who diagnosed Fielden with mild carpal tunnel syndrome in his right hand. In June 2001, Dr. David A. Southwick, Fielden's treating physician, diagnosed Fielden with carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand. In October 2001, March 2002, and February 2003, Fielden underwent a series of surgeries to alleviate his symptoms. Although he does not experience the pain that he once had, Fielden complains of motor skills problems and a loss of movement in his hands.

Evidence of the source of Fielden's injuries is of two sorts. First, Fielden described how he experienced pain in his right hand when operating a "plate jack," a pounding and vibrating machine that jacked up a rail to permit an operator to slide a tie plate underneath. Second, Dr. Thomas J. Fischer, another of Fielden's treating physicians, testified that he "felt that [Fielden's] original carpal tunnel syndrome was a work-aggravated condition." 1

Page 868

On October 29, 2003, Fielden brought a civil action against CSXT pursuant to FELA alleging that CSXT "negligently subjected [Fielden] to the risk of severe injury to his hands and wrists by assigning [Fielden] to operate a plate jack machine," and that as "a direct and proximate result of [CSXT's negligence, Fielden] sustained severe, permanent and lasting injury to both hands and arms." Fielden sought to recover money damages for lost earnings, medical expenses, and physical pain and suffering.

On April 1, 2004, Fielden served his initial disclosure of potential witnesses, identifying Dr. Southwick and Dr. Fischer as "individuals [who] may have information relevant to Mr. Fielden's employment history ... and his medical condition resulting from [CSXT's] negligence." On September 22, 2004, Fielden responded to CSXT's interrogatories. Interrogatory 24 read: "Please disclose the existence of all persons and produce all documents forthwith required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(A) & (B)." Fielden responded by listing Dr. Southwick and Dr. Fischer, noting that both "will testify on the issue of causation."

The deadline for filing expert reports repeatedly changed. On April 1, 2004, the magistrate judge issued a Preliminary Pretrial Order directing (1) primary expert disclosures under Rule 26(a)(2) to occur by September 3, 2004, (2) discovery to continue until December 10, 2004, and (3) the filing of dispositive motions by January 14, 2005. The order did not set a trial date. On September 12, 2004, the district court extended the deadline for Fielden's expert disclosures, and on October 1, 2004, CSXT filed an unopposed motion for an extension of time, which the magistrate judge granted on October 18, 2004. At the end of all extensions, Fielden needed to file expert reports by December 1, 2004, the new deadline for discovery was March 1, 2005, and the final day for filing dispositive motions was April 1, 2005. Fielden did not provide expert reports to CSXT by December 1, 2004.

On December 21, 2004, Fielden's counsel wrote a letter to Dr. Fischer requesting a "detailed narrative report" and an "opinion as to whether the condition for which you treated Mr. Fielden is causally related to his work with the...

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