*fn1,The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fisher, Associate Judge,H. Vincent McKnight, Jr., for appellant.,CARMELITA JONES, APPELLANT, v. NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, APPELLEE." />

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Jones v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

January 30, 2008 *fn1

CARMELITA JONES, APPELLANT,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAB8390-04) (Hon. Gerald I. Fisher, Trial Judge).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fisher, Associate Judge

Argued December 11, 2007

Before REID and FISHER, Associate Judges, and BELSON, Senior Judge.

Appellant Carmelita Jones asks us to reverse the Superior Court's orders granting summary judgment to appellee National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") and denying her motion for reconsideration. Discerning no legal error or abuse of discretion, we affirm.

I. Factual Background

Ms. Jones worked as a coach cleaner for Amtrak from March 16, 1981, until June 24, 2003. She performed a variety of cleaning duties, and sometimes she was asked to vacuum the passenger coaches. In January 2003, Ms. Jones began to experience pain in her right arm. At first, the pain was intermittent: "It might hurt today, but not hurt tomorrow." Sometime in March 2003, Ms. Jones told one of her supervisors that her "arm hurt" and asked to be relieved from vacuuming duty that day. She made this same request "eight or nine times" over the course of her remaining employment and each time her supervisor granted the request and assigned her to different duties. Ms. Jones testified that she would inform a supervisor that "I can't vacuum today, my arm hurts, I'd rather clean today, and they would let me clean."

When Ms. Jones made these requests, she would sometimes attribute the pain to arthritis or even old age. She never told her supervisors that she "could no longer vacuum ever," nor did she request reassignment from her position as a coach cleaner. In fact, Ms. Jones agreed that she "could do what [she] needed to do, other than vacuum." She never told her supervisors that she thought the problems with her arm and shoulder were caused by her work or that her work was making her arm worse. She also stated that she did not know the cause of her pain until she visited Dr. Pyfrom in June 2003.

Ms. Jones did, however, see other doctors about her arm and shoulder pain before consulting Dr. Pyfrom. For example, on January 25, 2003, she left work,*fn2 instead of working an overtime shift, and went to the emergency room. Throughout her treatment at the ER she "den[ied]any known injury or overuse." Ms. Jones then visited her primary care physician, Dr. Shepard-Lewis, on February 4, 2003, March 5, 2003, and March 26, 2003. The records of these four visits do not contain any reference to Ms. Jones's work as a coach cleaner,and Ms. Jones conceded that she did not discuss her job with her doctor.

The records from three of the visits do contain instructions for Ms. Jones to consult with an orthopaedic specialist. However, she failed to do so until June 2, 2003, when she visited Dr. Pyfrom. After an MRI conducted on or about June 10 revealed a rotator cuff tear, Dr. Pyfrom scheduled Ms. Jones for arthroscopic surgery. Ms. Jones continued working as a coach cleaner until June 24, 2003. Dr. Pyfrom performed the surgery on June 25, 2003, and a second surgery on November 13, 2003. Ms. Jones returned to work for Amtrak under its "Right Care Day One" modified duty program from March 13, 2004, until May 5, 2004. She has since retired on disability.

II. Procedural Background

On October 27, 2004, Ms. Jones filed a civil complaint in the Superior Court alleging that Amtrak had violated the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51 et seq., when it "allowed Ms. Jones to continue her duties over a period of six months despite their awareness of her aggravated shoulder discomfort[,]" failed to "evaluate [her] condition to determine whether she could continue to function as a coach cleaner[,]" "failed to refer her to medical treatment," and "failed to re-assign" her to "jobs suitable to her medical condition."

Amtrak moved for summary judgment on July 8, 2005, and Ms. Jones filed her opposition on July 25, 2005. The trial court granted summary judgment on October 17, 2005, "because the Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently demonstrate that her injury might be causally connected to her work at National Railroad." The court denied Ms. Jones's motion for reconsideration, stating: "Plaintiff has offered insufficient evidence and argument to convince the Court that its October 17, 2005, Order should be vacated."

III. Principles Governing Our Review

"Summary judgment is appropriate only when there are no material facts in issue and when it is clear that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Blodgett v. University Club, 930 A.2d 210, 217 (D.C. 2007) (citations and quotation marks omitted). "In reviewing a trial court order granting a summary judgment motion, we conduct an independent review of the record . . . [and] we must view the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party[.]" Id. "[T]here is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Id. "The mere ...


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