First Circuit Upholds $250,000 Tennis Elbow Verdict

In Granfield v. CSX Transportation, Inc., the First Circuit upheld a $250,000 jury verdict for a plaintiff railroad engineer who claimed to have developed lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow,” as a result of having to manipulate defective controls found in the cabin of his locomotive.

Defendant-appellant CSX Transportation, Inc. (“CSXT”) is appealing from the district court’s denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial, after a jury awarded $250,000 to plaintiff-appellee Robert Granfield (“Granfield”), based on a finding that CSXT violated both the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (“FELA”), 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq., and the Locomotive Inspection Act (“LIA”), 49 U.S.C. § 20701 et seq. Granfield, a locomotive engineer employed by CSXT, claimed he developed lateral epicondylitis, or “tennis elbow,” as a result of having to manipulate defective controls found in the cabin of his locomotive. After a ten-day trial and the district court’s denial of several dispositive motions by CSXT, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Granfield.

CSXT appeals from the judgment and claims the district court erred in: (1) not dismissing the case under the FELA statute of limitations; (2) allowing Granfield’s medical expert witness to testify on causation; (3) admitting a letter containing irrelevant and prejudicial statements, even though the district court overruled itself and eventually held the letter inadmissible; (4) refusing to order a new trial despite Granfield’s counsel’s allegedly improper statements at closing argument; and (5) denial of its motions for a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict based on the cumulative error doctrine. After careful review of each issue in this highly contested case, we find no error by the district court and therefore affirm the jury verdict.

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