Federal magistrate rejects doctors' reports in CSX asbestos suits

By Steve Korris | Jun 18, 2010


PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Magistrate Judge Faith Angell rejected reports from two former doctors in 173 asbestos exposure suits against CSX Transportation.

"Plaintiffs have no competent evidence of injury or causation," she wrote on May 25.

She gave lawyer Roger Lane of Jacksonville, Fla. 30 days to obtain independent confirmation of diagnoses from Isabella Sharpe and Samir Najjar of Jacksonville.

She wrote that only certified practitioners can provide expert medical evidence.

"Since Drs. Sharpe and Najjar are not certified at this time, they cannot provide expert oral testimony and thus their reports cannot be used as evidence," she wrote.

Lane filed the suits at federal court in Georgia, on behalf of CSX workers.

They sought damages under the Federal Employers Liability Act, which creates a federal cause of action for tort claims by railroad workers.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation transferred the suits to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where District Judge Eduardo Robreno and magistrates manage tens of thousands of asbestos suits.

CSX moved for summary judgment, arguing that neither Sharpe nor Najjar submitted sworn statements under penalty of perjury.

CSX claimed their reports didn't assert a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

Sharpe reported an "impression that this gentleman has asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease."

Najjar diagnosed asbestosis "based on radiographic findings, clinical history and pulmonary function test."

Angell granted summary judgment, without prejudice.

"Under FELA, a plaintiff must prove that his injuries resulted from defendant's negligence while working for defendant," she wrote.

"Since specialized knowledge is necessary to prove issues of injury and causation, expert testimony is required," she wrote.

"Applying FELA does not change the requirement for expert testimony," she wrote.

Randall Jordan of St. Simons Island, Ga., represented CSX.

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