Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Apr. 12, 2016, 4:20pm

Illinois Central Railroad seeks to dismiss a former railroad engineer’s lawsuit alleging harassment by his supervisor and fear of physical contact caused him to suffer a heart attack.

Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson granted Illinois Central Railroad Company’s motion to dismiss on March 30. He gave McCandrew 14 days to file another amended complaint, which cannot plead punitive damages and must be “set out in distinct counts based on the theories of recovery asserted.”

He scheduled a hearing on the defendant’s expected motion to dismiss for May 17 at 9 a.m.

Eddie McCandrew filed his first amended lawsuit on Dec. 14 against the Illinois Central Railroad. His original complaint was filed Oct. 13.

According to the complaint, McCandrew was an engineer with the Illinois Central Railroad Company. He alleges that while at work, he was harassed by his supervisor, which he claims caused his heart attack. Then when he returned to work, he claims his supervisor’s harassment continued. As a result, he was forced to resign, the suit states.

The plaintiff seeks damages of more than $50,000, plus court costs.

On Jan. 13, Illinois Central Railroad filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or, in the alternative, it asks for a more definite statement.

“The Complaint characterizes the foregoing as ‘unauthorized contact with Plaintiffs person,’ although no incident involving physical contact is alleged,” the motion states.

The defendant also argues that punitive damages are not permitted under FELA.

McCandrew filed a response to the defendant’s motion to dismiss on March 18 through attorneys Charles Armbruster and Michael Blotevogel of Maryville. He states that he has no opposition to the defendant’s request for a more definite statement and agrees that punitive damages are not recoverable in FELA cases.

However, he does oppose the defendant’s request for dismissal.

“Plaintiff pled the ultimate facts that he was reasonably concerned his supervisor would imminently initiate physical contact against him, and that this concern caused him physical injury. His pleadings are sufficient to avoid a motion to dismiss, however the complaint is categorized,” the response states.

He also argues that his complaint is not a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Regardless, he argues that he still satisfied the requirements for NIED claims.

Illinois Central Railroad filed a reply in support of its motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on March 24 through attorney Kurt Reitz of Thompson Coburn LLP in Belleville.

The defendant argues that federal law applies to the case, which states that “a claim for a heart attack resulting from emotional distress is a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress requiring the plaintiff to be within the zone of danger to recover.”

Illinois Central Railroad also argues that if McCandrew is not making a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, then his claims that he was concerned that his supervisor would initiate physical contact with him should be stricken “since they are only relevant if he is attempting to establish that he was within the zone of danger for purposes of a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.”

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-582

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