As noted, count I of plaintiff’s complaint in the case at bar sought damages for
permanent injuries plaintiff suffered to his back on October 3, 2007, when “the high-rail
wheels dropped on the work truck he was in and [he]was caused to be severely and
permanently injured.” Count II of plaintiff’s complaint sought damages for permanent
injuries to his back because “he was subjected to numerous repetitive traumas while
repairing [d]efendant’s railroad tracks” during his employment with defendant from 1973
We find that the trial court erred by granting defendant’s motion to dismiss with
regard to count I of plaintiff’s complaint on the basis that the 1997 release barred
plaintiff’s claim for injuries allegedly suffered on October 3, 2007. As noted above, a
release, to bar a subsequent FELA claim, must relate to a specific instance of disputed
liability. As the alleged October 3, 2007, work-related accident occurred approximately
10 years after the 1997 release, the release could not have addressed plaintiff’s alleged
2007 work injury.
Furthermore, the 1997 release could not bar count I of plaintiff’s complaint even
under Wicker’s more expansive rule, permitting releases of known risks. As the Wicker
court noted, an evaluation of the parties’ intent at the time of the execution of a release is
as essential element in the inquiry of a release’s enforceability. Wicker, 142 F.3d at 701.
The parties to this appeal could not have intended that the 1997 release bar an action for
injuries plaintiff suffered in 2007, as a contemplation of the 2007 injury was an
impossibility at the time of the signing of the 1997 release.
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