629 F.3d 639 (7th Cir. 2010), 10-1279, Myers v. Illinois Central R. Co.
|Citation:||629 F.3d 639|
|Opinion Judge:||MANION, Circuit Judge.|
|Party Name:||Timothy MYERS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, d/b/a Canadian National/Illinois Central Railroad Company, Defendant-Appellee.|
|Attorney:||Patrick S. O'Brien, O'Brien Chod, Newton G. McCoy (argued), St. Louis, MO, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Kurt E. Reitz (argued), Thompson Coburn, Belleville, IL, for Defendant-Appellee.|
|Judge Panel:||Before MANION, SYKES and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||December 15, 2010|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit|
Argued Sept. 15, 2010.
For almost thirty years, Timothy Myers worked for the Illinois Central Railroad Company. The work was physically demanding and over the course of his career Myers suffered several injuries, including cumulative trauma disorders that eventually forced him to retire. He sued the Railroad claiming that these disorders were caused by its negligence. Before trial, Myers offered reports from three medical doctors and an ergonomist that would prove the Railroad's negligence caused his injuries. But the district court barred Myers's experts and granted summary judgment for the Railroad. On appeal, Myers argues that the district court erred. Because the opinions of Myers's physicians were based on speculation, and the nature of his injuries necessitates expert testimony about specific causation that the ergonomist could not provide, we affirm.
Myers is 50 years old, and he began working for the Railroad after graduating from high school in 1978. Over the years, he worked in various capacities, including as a brakeman, a switchman, and a conductor. Since the early 1990s, the job titles brakeman, switchman, and conductor included the same employment tasks, and we use them interchangeably. Regardless of the title, Myers's work was physically demanding. He would get on and off a slow-moving train 30 or 35 times a day and walk several miles every day on large, rocky ballast. Ballast is simply the rock that surrounds the train tracks. Sometimes the ballast was covered with bean meal or corn meal, which made it like walking through mud during the summer time and walking on ice in the winter. In addition to walking miles in those conditions, as many as 50 times a day Myers would throw the switch that changes tracks that a train is traveling on. And he would connect the handbrakes and pull the pins that connect the train cars. These tasks
varied in difficulty depending on the rail yard and the season.
Besides being physically demanding, this work was also dangerous. Myers fell off a tank car in 1981 and broke his right ankle and hurt his left knee, which required surgery. A few years later, he stepped on a large rock while he was getting off the train and injured his right knee. He had surgery on that knee too. Then in 1987, he injured his back after trying to move a four-hundred-pound draw bar, which is a device used for coupling a train car to the engine. As a result he missed three to five months of work. After that, Myers was injury-free until 1998 when he injured his knee and shoulder trying to force a cab door open. The knee improved with rest, but he had to have surgery on his shoulder.
Naturally these injuries and the nature of this work have taken a toll on Myers's body. Between 2004 and 2006, he began to experience pain in his left elbow, his right knee, and his back and neck. The problem with his left elbow was diagnosed as a medial epicondylitis, which is commonly called " golfer's elbow" ; his right knee was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is commonly referred to as degenerative arthritis; and he had several serious problems with his back, including several herniated disks. Each problem required surgery-two, in the case of his back.
In 2008, he sued the Railroad under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S. C. § 51, claiming that the Railroad's failure to provide him with a reasonably safe workplace caused the problems with his elbow, knee, and back and neck. The physicians who treated Myers for each of these injuries were listed as experts and expected to testify at trial. Myers also expected to call an ergonomist, Dr. Tyler Kress, who would testify at trial about how the dangerous conditions in the Railroad's yards could have caused Myers's injuries.
Before trial, however, the district court struck the four experts. It found that under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993), none of the experts' opinions was based on reliable procedures or methods. It reasoned that the experts did not have an adequate understanding of Myers's medical history or his work with the Railroad to give an opinion about what caused his injuries. Concerning the ergonomist, the court found that because his analysis of railroad conditions was not focused on Myers's work there, his opinion was not reliable. After striking the experts, the district court granted the Railroad's motion for summary judgment, and this appeal followed.
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