United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. CASPER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Rufus Huff (“Huff”) filed this lawsuit against
his former employer, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad
Company (“MBCR”) alleging violations of the
Federal Employer's Liability Act (“FELA”), 45
U.S.C. §§ 51 et seq. D. 1. MBCR has moved
for summary judgment. D. 17. For the reasons stated below,
the Court DENIES the motion.
Standard of Review
Court grants summary judgment where there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the undisputed facts
demonstrate that the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A fact is
material if it carries with it the potential to affect the
outcome of the suit under the applicable law.”
Santiago-Ramos v. Centennial P.R. Wireless Corp.,
217 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2000) (quoting Sánchez
v. Alvarado, 101 F.3d 223, 227 (1st Cir. 1996)). The
movant “bears the burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact.” Carmona v.
Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir. 2000); see
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If
the movant meets its burden, the non-moving party may not
rest on the allegations or denials in his pleadings,
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256
(1986), but “must, with respect to each issue on which
[he] would bear the burden of proof at trial, demonstrate
that a trier of fact could reasonably resolve that issue in
[his] favor.” Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v.
Serrano-Isern, 605 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2010). “As
a general rule, that requires the production of evidence that
is ‘significant[ly] probative.'” Id.
(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249) (alteration in
original). When assessing a motion for summary judgment, the
Court will not consider “conclusory allegations,
improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation.”
Galloza v. Foy, 389 F.3d 26, 28 (1st Cir. 2004)
(quoting Medina-Munoz v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.,
896 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990)). The Court “view[s] the
record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing
reasonable inferences in his favor.” Noonan v.
Staples, Inc., 556 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2009).
following facts are drawn primarily from MBCR's
memorandum of law in support of its motion for summary
judgment, D. 18,  MBCR's statement of undisputed
material facts, D. 20, Huff's memorandum of law in
opposition of MBCR's motion for summary judgment,
21, and other supporting documents and are undisputed unless
otherwise noted. Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1
“[m]aterial facts of record set forth in the statement
required to be served by the moving party will be deemed for
purposes of the motion to be admitted by opposition parties
unless controverted by the statement required to be served by
opposing parties.” Local Rule 56.1.
a seventy-year-old man who began working for MBCR in April
2007. D. 20, ¶ 1; D. 21 at 1. Huff spent just over seven
years working at MBCR, ending his employment with the company
in June 2014. D. 20, ¶ 5; D. 21 at 2. While employed at
MBCR, Huff held various positions within the
Track/Engineering Department, including working as a
trackman, watchman and crossing tender. D. 20, ¶¶
7-9; D. 21 at 2-3. Prior to his employment with MBCR, Huff
spent approximately twenty-eight years working as a laborer
at Boston Edison, retiring from his position in 1998. D. 20,
¶ 3. While an employee of MBCR, Huff was provided with
safety rules to follow and received extensive safety
training. D. 18 at 5. MBCR provided Huff with personal
protective equipment to wear while he worked, which included
a hard hat, safety glasses, steel-toe boots, and gloves.
Id.; D. 21-1 at 13. MBCR also had a Safety Committee
comprised of union and management personnel to address any
safety issues that arose. D. 18 at 5.
first consulted his primary care physician, Dr. Robert
Muldoon, in late 2014 regarding discomfort he was
experiencing in his right hand. D. 18 at 2; D. 21 at 14. Dr.
Muldoon referred Huff to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Marvin
Rosen, whom Huff met with on December 4, 2014. D. 18 at 2-3;
D. 21 at 7. Following testing, Dr. Rosen diagnosed Huff with
right carpal tunnel syndrome on January 21, 2015. D. 20,
¶ 10; D. 21 at 14. Huff underwent a right carpal tunnel
release surgical procedure performed by Dr. Rosen on May 29,
2015. D. 20, ¶ 12, D. 21 at 14. Following the recurrence
of his symptoms, Huff underwent a second right carpal tunnel
release surgery on February 1, 2018, performed by a different
orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Raghuveer Muppavarapu. D. 20, ¶
12; D. 21 at 17.
instituted this action on March 30, 2018, alleging negligence
against MBCR. D. 1. MBCR has now moved for summary judgment.
D. 17. The Court held a hearing on the motion and took the
matter under advisement. D. 25.
Statute of Limitations
argues that Huff failed to file this action within the
applicable statute of limitations period because the statute
of limitations began to run on either January 21, 2015 or
February 4, 2015, the dates on which Huff was informed by his
doctors that he had right carpal tunnel syndrome. D. 18 at
7-10. Huff argues that the statute of limitations did not
begin to run until sometime on or after May 29, 2015, when
Huff had his first carpal tunnel ...