PHILADELPHIA – A pair of Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA) lawsuits filed by New York plaintiffs and former railroad workers against Conrail and CSX Transportation were recently consolidated in state court.

John Grybowski of Lancaster, N.Y. initially filed suit on Jan. 23, 2017 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, against Consolidated Rail (Conrail) Corporation in Philadelphia and CSX Transportation, Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla.

“On April 1, 1976, plaintiff [John] Grybowski started working as a Conrail mechanic and machinist, and worked for Conrail until on or about May 31, 1999,” the suit says. “On or about May 31, 1999, plaintiff [John] Grybowski started working for CSX as a mechanic and machinist, and worked in that capacity for CSX until on or about June 1, 2015,” the suit says.

The plaintiff says in the course of his employment duties, the defendants overexposed the plaintiff to musculoskeletal stressors including awkward postures and repetitive heavy lifting, such that he developed occupationally-induced musculoskeletal injuries and disease to his bilateral shoulders (rotator cuff tears), cervical spine and lumbar spine.

The plaintiff adds the defendants failed to provide him with a safe work environment, appropriate equipment, adequate supervision, tools and manpower.

Meanwhile, fellow plaintiff Lee Greiner of South Wales, N.Y., first filed suit on Feb. 6, 2017 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, against Conrail in Philadelphia, and Erie Lackawanna Railway and CSX Transportation, Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla.

“Plaintiff [Lee] Grenier was working as a track laborer/trackman, welder, road mechanic/machinist, from May 1974 through March 2016 within the course and scope of his employment for defendants, and during that time the defendants overexposed him to musculoskeletal stressors, such that he developed occupationally-induced musculoskeletal injuries and disease(s) to his shoulders,” the suit says.

The plaintiff says the injuries the defendants caused him have left him unfit for employment at his previous occupation and has sustained substantial damages, in addition to mental and emotional injuries in the process. The plaintiff adds the defendants failed to provide him with a safe work environment, appropriate equipment, adequate supervision, tools and manpower.

Previous attempts by defense counsel last year to get the suits thrown out of court on a number of grounds, including improper venue, the applicable statutes of limitations, the doctrine of preclusion under the Federal Railway Safety Act, Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, Safety Appliance Act and the Railway Labor Act, failing to state a proper claim under FELA and pre-existing medical conditions were unsuccessful, according to court records.

On March 13, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Shelley Robins-New approved a motion to consolidate the cases, with the matter listing Grybowski as the named plaintiff being the lead case.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages, jointly and severally, in excess of the court’s jurisdictional minimum, plus costs and other remedies at law in equity, in addition to a trial by jury in these matters.

The plaintiffs are represented by David L. Lockard of David L. Lockard & Associates, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Amy E. Farris, Sharon L. Caffrey, Alyson W. Lotman, Theresa A. Langschultz, Jeffrey S. Pollack and Robert M. Palumbos of Duane Morris, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas cases 170102982 & 170200020

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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