Judge to consider motion for new trial against BNSF

David Yates Oct. 29, 2008, 9:14am

Earlier this month, a Jefferson County judge dismissed a suit against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. But before the month is up, the judge must decide if the plaintiff should be granted a new trial against the railroad company.

On Oct. 8 Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, granted summary judgment in favor of BNSF Railway, dismissing the claims of Doyle Haley – a career BNSF employee who claims his service to the company rendered him in poor health.

However, the suit did not end with Sanderson's ruling. The judge has slated a hearing for Oct. 31 in which the plaintiff and his attorneys will argue their motion for a new trial.

If the motion is granted, the 3-year-old suit will be reinstated.

Haley, who has worked for BNSF since 1964, filed suit against BNSF back in 2005, alleging he was exposed to "excessive" and "cumulative trauma," court papers say.

In his suit, Haley says his career with BNSF has inflicted him with carpal tunnel syndrome and medial epicondylitis.

Medial epicondylitis is an overuse injury affecting the flexor-pronator muscle origin at the anterior medial epicon, according to the eMedicine Web site.

"Haley was unaware of the dangerous … cumulative trauma to which he was exposed," the suit says.

"Haley did not learn the nature of the cause of his injuries … until less than three years prior to filing this suit."

Because Haley's injuries were accumulated more than three years before his suit was filed, BNSF filed a motion for summary judgment on April 5, 2007, arguing the statute of limitations had elapsed.

Around three weeks later, Haley's attorney, Kirkland Sammons of Vasquez & Sammons, filed a response, asserting Haley's "cause of action did not accrue until Dr. Senthilkumar diagnosed him on Sept. 14, 2004, well within the limitations period."

BNSF had also argued Haley had a duty to inform the company if he required ergonomic equipment.

Haley accused BNSF of negligent infliction of emotional distress and violated the Locomotive Boiler Inspection Act.

He was suing his employer for past and future medical expenses, mental anguish, physical pain and all court costs.

BNSF was represented in part by attorney Douglas Poole of the McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel law firm.

Case No. B175-076

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