Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Railroad companies seek to dismiss litigation filed by estate of switchman for improper venue

Lawsuits

By Nicholas Malfitano | May 14, 2019


PHILADELPHIA – The defendants in an action where the estate of a deceased train line switchman alleges the railroad companies he worked for violated the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) and Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) by failing to protect the decedent from exposure to toxic substances, have filed to dismiss it for improper venue.

Matthew Decker, counsel for Penn Central, Conrail and CSX Transportation filed a motion to dismiss on April 26 for reasons of improper venue, believing that a Philadelphia County court was not the right forum in which litigate claims made against a Harrisburg-based company (American Premier Underwriters, Inc.) and one from Jacksonville, Fla. (CSX Transportation, Inc.)

Casey Ann Carter (acting as Administrator of the Estate of Ronald L. Mussetter) of Sabina, Ohio, first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Aug. 24 versus Consolidated Rail Corporation of Philadelphia, CSX Transportation, Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla. and American Premier Underwriters, Inc. of Harrisburg.

Per the litigation, Mussetter worked for the defendants in the locomotive switchman role from 1969 to 1999. During that time frame, Carter claims Mussetter was exposed to “diesel exhaust, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke” in the course of his duties, and was not provided respiratory protection, nor warned of the dangers of his exposure to those dangerous substances.

“As a result of this exposure to diesel exhaust, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke, decedent was diagnosed with metastatic small cell lung cancer, which metastasized to his brain, which caused his death on March 24, 2016,” the lawsuit read.

Carter claimed the defendants violated the federal laws in question by negligently failing to provide Mussetter with reasonably safe and sufficient personal safety apparel and equipment and failing to minimize or eliminate the plaintiff’s decedent’s exposure to “diesel exhaust, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and second-hand cigarette and cigar smoke,” in addition to other charges.

Defendant American Premier Underwriters filed a response to the lawsuit on Sept. 12.

The company’s counsel categorically denied the allegations and counter-claimed that the lawsuit is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, that a Philadelphia court is an inappropriate venue and the decedent’s failure to mitigate his own damages, combined with other claims.

For violations of both the FELA and LIA, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

The plaintiff is represented by Luke T. Pepper of Levin Sedan & Berman in Philadelphia and Tobi A. Russeck of Bern Cappelli, in Conshohocken.

The defendants are represented by Matthew Decker, Sharon L. Caffrey and Jeffrey S. Pollack of Duane Morris in Philadelphia, plus Daniel L. Jones and Nicholas W. Timeless of Blank Rome, in Cincinnati.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180601119

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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Organizations in this Story

Blank Rome Conrail CSX Corporation Penn Central Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

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