KCS gets partial dismissal in million dollar "Bad Sprain" case

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Dec 13, 2007

MARSHALL -- Judge Leonard Davis granted defendant Kansas City Southern Railway Company's (KCS) Partial Motion to Dismiss on Dec. 5 for failure to state a claim.

KCS was seeking dismissal of a wrongful discharge claim by stating the plaintiff failed to state any facts to support such a claim.

The plaintiff, Louisiana resident Chad Ruffin, filed the original suit against KCS on March 16, 2007 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Ruffin alleges KCS negligently injured him and then fired him in retaliation for making a Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) claim. Ruffin worked as a laborer and diesel mechanic for KCS for a little over a month � from March 8 to April 11, 2005.

Four days before his termination, Ruffin states he was injured after slipping in excess oil and debris on the shop floor.

"This incident injured his lower extremities, and his ankle, among other parts of his body." Ruffin states the doctor said the injury "was a bad sprain and would take awhile to heal." Ruffin claims he continues to suffer because of his injuries.

On the day of his firing, Ruffin reported to work after being released to perform light duty but his supervisor terminated his employment.

The plaintiff argued he was wrongfully discharged for which he identifies four grounds (1) for retaliation for filing a FELA claim, (2) retaliation under the Texas Labor Code, (3) violation of implied contract of good faith and fair dealing, and (4) violation of Texas and Louisiana public policies.

However, Judge Davis recently dismissed these allegations by finding "Ruffin has not stated a cognizable basis for his wrongful discharge claim."

The plaintiff is seeking $2.775 million for compensatory damages and a punitive damages claim multiplier for lost wages and benefits, loss of seniority wages, lost of earning capacity, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of physical function, medical expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Defendant KCS denies proper venue and is seeking a motion to change the venue to the Shreveport Division of the Western District of Louisiana. Further, within the Defendant's Original Answer, Kansas City Southern Railway Company denies Ruffin was employed as a diesel mechanic but admits the plaintiff reported a work-related injury to his supervisor and was examined by a company doctor.

The defendant denies all further allegations and argues the plaintiff's negligence was the sole proximate cause of his injuries.

Attorney S. Reed Morgan of the Comfort law firm Morgan and Chadick, L.L.P and Pittsburg, Penn., attorney Gregory G. Paul are representing the plaintiff.

Both plaintiff and defendants are requesting a trial before a jury. Mediation conference is set for Jan. 8 and jury trial is set for March 20, 2008.

Judge Leonard Davis is presiding over the case.

Case No.: 2:07cv00087

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