Albert v. Maine Cent. R. Co., No. 89-2131

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore COFFIN, Senior Circuit Judge, TORRUELLA and SELYA; TORRUELLA
Citation905 F.2d 541
Decision Date02 April 1990
Docket NumberNo. 89-2131
Parties14 O.S.H. Cas.(BNA) 1638 Lawrence ALBERT, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. MAINE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, et al., Defendants, Appellees. . Heard

Page 541

905 F.2d 541
14 O.S.H. Cas.(BNA) 1638
Lawrence ALBERT, et al., Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
MAINE CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY, et al., Defendants, Appellees.
No. 89-2131.
United States Court of Appeals,
First Circuit.
Heard April 2, 1990.
Decided June 12, 1990.

Page 542

John Paul Curran, Philadelphia, Pa., with whom John Paul Erler, South Portland, Me., was on brief, for plaintiffs, appellants.

Scott T. Maker, with whom Ralph I. Lancaster and Pierce, Atwood, Scribner, Allen, Smith & Lancaster, Portland, Me., were on brief, for defendants, appellees.

Before COFFIN, Senior Circuit Judge, TORRUELLA and SELYA, Circuit Judges.

TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Maine. Appellants contend that the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment on the basis that their claims under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. Sec. 51 et seq., were time barred. We affirm.

I. FACTS

On July 30, 1987, 49 former or current railroad employees, including the appellants, commenced this action. Five of the original ten appellants prosecuting this appeal were dismissed. See Lawrence Albert, et al. v. Maine Central Railroad Co., et al., 898 F.2d 5 (1st Cir.1990) (per curiam). The relevant facts as to the remaining five appellants relate to whether the appellants knew, or reasonably should have known, both of their hearing loss and its cause more than three years before they brought suit. The record of undisputed facts for each appellant is as follows:

A. Bickford

Russell S. Bickford testified that the first time he knew he suffered from hearing loss was when he took a hearing test in 1980. When asked if, in 1980, he thought his slight hearing loss resulted from his work at the railroad, appellant Bickford responded in the affirmative.

B. Brannen

After being asked if he had noticed that he had a hearing loss, and responding in the affirmative, Walter Brannen then testified that he had realized that he had a hearing loss for about ten years. He said that he suspected that the hearing loss resulted from the noise he was exposed to every day at the railroad and that he had this suspicion since he first noticed his hearing loss in 1978.

C. Fitton

Kenneth Fitton stated that he first noticed his hearing loss during the last five years, and that approximately five years ago, in 1983, he linked his work with the railroad to his hearing loss.

D. Hamilton

Edward T. Hamilton stated that he remembered having a hearing loss after the first time he had a whistle from a railroad engine blown in his ear in 1971. He stated in 1975 he attributed his hearing problems to the railroad.

E. Hunt

Alan D. Hunt began noticing a hearing loss approximately ten to fifteen years ago.

Page 543

His wife attributed his hearing loss to his work at the railroad and told Hunt her opinion about ten years ago in 1978. At that time, Hunt agreed with his wife as to the work at the railroad being the cause of his hearing loss.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Upon review of a grant of summary judgment, we employ the same standard of review as the district court. 10 C. Wright, A. Miller & M. Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure, Sec. 2716 at 643 (1983). Summary judgment is proper when there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). We consider the undisputed facts in the pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. See, e.g., Kennedy v. Josephthal & Co., Inc., 814 F.2d 798, 804 (1st Cir.1987). Our review of legal decisions is plenary.

III. DISCUSSION

FELA provides that "[n]o action shall be maintained under this chapter unless commenced within three years from the day the cause of action accrued." 45 U.S.C. Sec. 56. The method of determining when an action accrues is not set by the statute. Rather, courts must interpret the term keeping in mind the purpose of the provisions and the practical ends to be served by a period of limitations. Reading Co. v. Koons, 271 U.S. 58, 46 S.Ct. 405, 70 L.Ed. 835 (1926). As the United States Supreme Court has stated, the legislative intent behind any statute of limitations is that "the right to be free of stale claims in time comes to prevail over the right to prosecute them." United States v. Kubrick, ...

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50 practice notes
  • Monarch v. Southern Pacific Transp. Co., No. A081178
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 25 Marzo 1999
    ...have known, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the essential facts of injury and cause. (Albert v. Maine Cent. R. Co. (1st Cir.1990) 905 F.2d 541, 544; Townley v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. (4th Cir.1989) 887 F.2d 498, 501; Williams v. Southern Pacific Transp. Co. (S.D.Miss.1992) 813 F......
  • ID v. Westmoreland School Dist., Civ. No. 91-155-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of New Hampshire
    • 16 Marzo 1992
    ...2401(a)) (quoting Reading Co. v. Koons, 271 U.S. 58, 62, 46 S.Ct. 405, 406, 70 L.Ed. 835 (1926)); see also Albert v. Maine Cent. R.R. Co., 905 F.2d 541, 543 (1st Cir.1990) (construing section 56 of the Federal Employers' Liability One of the general purposes of the IDEA is to "ensure prompt......
  • O'Rourke v. Jason Inc., Civil Action No. 94-30167-MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 10 Septiembre 1997
    ...of limitations whether to sue or not, which is precisely the judgment that other tort claimants must make"); Albert v. Maine Cent. R. Co., 905 F.2d 541, 544 (1st Cir.1990) (once the plaintiff concluded he had a hearing loss and believed that the injury was caused by his employment, "he had ......
  • Anderson v. BNSF Ry., No. DA 14–0253.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 12 Agosto 2015
    ...F.3d 803, 814 (6th Cir. 1996) ; Fries v. Chicago & N.W. Transp. Co., 909 F.2d 1092, 1095 (7th Cir.1990) ; Albert v. Maine Cent. R.R. Co., 905 F.2d 541, 544 (1st Cir.1990) ; Townley v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 887 F.2d 498, 501 (4th Cir.1989) ; Kichline v. Consol. Rail Corp., 800 F.2d 356, 359 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • Monarch v. Southern Pacific Transp. Co., No. A081178
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 25 Marzo 1999
    ...have known, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, the essential facts of injury and cause. (Albert v. Maine Cent. R. Co. (1st Cir.1990) 905 F.2d 541, 544; Townley v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. (4th Cir.1989) 887 F.2d 498, 501; Williams v. Southern Pacific Transp. Co. (S.D.Miss.1992) 813 F......
  • ID v. Westmoreland School Dist., Civ. No. 91-155-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of New Hampshire
    • 16 Marzo 1992
    ...2401(a)) (quoting Reading Co. v. Koons, 271 U.S. 58, 62, 46 S.Ct. 405, 406, 70 L.Ed. 835 (1926)); see also Albert v. Maine Cent. R.R. Co., 905 F.2d 541, 543 (1st Cir.1990) (construing section 56 of the Federal Employers' Liability One of the general purposes of the IDEA is to "ensure prompt......
  • O'Rourke v. Jason Inc., Civil Action No. 94-30167-MAP.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 10 Septiembre 1997
    ...of limitations whether to sue or not, which is precisely the judgment that other tort claimants must make"); Albert v. Maine Cent. R. Co., 905 F.2d 541, 544 (1st Cir.1990) (once the plaintiff concluded he had a hearing loss and believed that the injury was caused by his employment, "he had ......
  • Anderson v. BNSF Ry., No. DA 14–0253.
    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 12 Agosto 2015
    ...F.3d 803, 814 (6th Cir. 1996) ; Fries v. Chicago & N.W. Transp. Co., 909 F.2d 1092, 1095 (7th Cir.1990) ; Albert v. Maine Cent. R.R. Co., 905 F.2d 541, 544 (1st Cir.1990) ; Townley v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 887 F.2d 498, 501 (4th Cir.1989) ; Kichline v. Consol. Rail Corp., 800 F.2d 356, 359 ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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