Finn v. Consolidated Rail Corp.

Decision Date12 June 1985
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 80-1633-Mc.
Citation622 F. Supp. 41
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
PartiesPat FINN, Administratix, Plaintiff, v. CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORP., (Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff), v. BOSTON & MAINE RAILROAD, Third-Party Defendant.

Philip J. Crowe Jr., Lubin & Meyer, Boston, Mass., for plaintiff.

Michael A. Fitzhugh, Fitzhugh & Ward, Boston, Mass., for Consolidated Rail Corp.

Robert D. O'Leary, Quincy, Mass., for Boston & Maine Corp.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDERS ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS

McNAUGHT, District Judge.

This action came on to be heard on two separate motions. The defendant Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) filed a motion to dismiss which shall be treated as a motion for summary judgment. The third-party defendant Boston & Maine Railroad (B. & M.) filed a separate motion for summary judgment.

Briefly, the facts are these. The plaintiff's intestate, Edward Finn, worked as a railroad employee for almost 35 years. In 1977 he had worked recently as an employee of Conrail. There was a takeover of the route on which Mr. Finn had been working, by the B. & M. When that happened, B. & M. agreed to accept as many employees from Conrail as possible, subject to some restrictions, and a set of procedures was outlined for the Conrail employees to follow, in order to make the transition. They had to undergo a physical examination, including an eye test, and an interview. Mr. Finn understood when he made application to become an employee of the B. & M. that he would be informed if he failed one of those tests. He was not so notified, but when a list of hired employees was posted by the B. & M., his name was not on it. The plaintiff asserts that a mixup had occurred: that an employee of Conrail had mixed this Mr. Finn with a different Mr. Finn; that by reason of the error in record keeping, the B. & M. was led to believe that this Mr. Finn had a spotty service record, instead of a perfectly clean one. The interview and test had taken place June 14, 1977. Mr. Finn learned that he had not been awarded a job on either June 20 or June 21st, 1977. The papers filed in support of and in opposition to these motions indicate that if there was any negligence involved with respect to the record keeping it was negligence on the part of Conrail through its employee. Mr. Finn, according to his counsel, was "crushed by the loss of his job". He searched for a reason. He enlisted the aid of his union. He was told that a disciplinary violation attributable to the other Mr. Finn had been the reason for the denial of the job. Conrail in effect apologized to him. When the misunderstanding was cleared up Mr. Finn was hired by the B. & M. He began, however, seeing a psychiatrist because of depression, and he delayed his return to work until September of 1977. Within two weeks afterward, he took his own life.

His administratrix subsequently brought this action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) claiming responsibility on the part of Conrail, on July 20, 1980. Defendant Conrail's position in part is: one cannot recover for emotional distress, unless there is some causally related compensable physical injury. In support of this proposition, Conrail cites Bullard v. Central Vermont Ry., 565 F.2d 193 (1st Cir. 1977). There the Court stated, at p. 197: "The jury was therefore entitled to compensate Gonyer for the elements of mental distress properly attributable to this accident, limited, of course, to those of which there was competent evidence. (Gonyer suffered an injury to his foot.) These elements included, on this record, Gonyer's fright just before the accident, when collision was imminent and he jumped, and his terror just after the trains collided. The jury was not, however, entitled to compensate him for his sadness at the passing of his friends, nor, given the complete absence of meaningful evidence of mental or nervous after-effects, was the jury entitled to compensate for...

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7 cases
  • Larry D. Vance v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 93-LW-5201
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • 10 Noviembre 1993
    ...... Central Vermont Ry. (C.A. 1 1977), 565 F.2d 193;. Finn v. Consolidated Rail Corp. (D. Mass. 1985), 622. F. Supp. 41, aff'd on other grounds, 782 ... properly granted appellee's motion for summary judgment. pursuant to Civ. R. 56(C). . . We. also find that plaintiff's proofs have failed ......
  • Teague v. National RR Passenger Corp., Civ. A. No. 88-1543-Y
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 21 Febrero 1989
    ...that recovery for emotional injury under the FELA is permitted only where it accompanies physical injury); Finn v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 622 F.Supp. 41, 43 (D.Mass.1985) (following Bullard), aff'd 782 F.2d 13 (1st Cir.1986); Naidoo v. Union Pacific R.R., 224 Neb. 853, 402 N.W.2d 653, 658......
  • Halko v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc., 84 Civ. 6300 (CHT).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 7 Diciembre 1987
    ...by physical impact is not cognizable under the FELA. Id. at 197. The Bullard decision was relied upon in Finn v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 622 F.Supp. 41 (D.Mass.1985), aff'd on other grounds, 782 F.2d 13 (1st Cir.1986). In Finn, the plaintiff claimed that the decedent committed suicide beca......
  • Naidoo v. Union Pacific R. Co., 85-515
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • 13 Marzo 1987
    ...under the FELA without some precipitating physical injury." (Emphasis in original.) Moody, supra at 1473. In Finn v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 622 F.Supp. 41 (D.Mass.1985), aff'd 782 F.2d 13 (1st Cir.1986), the court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment where the employee's es......
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