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Wahl v. Watco Companies, LLC

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

April 21, 2015

MATHEW WAHL, Appellant,
v.
WATCO COMPANIES, LLC, Respondent

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri. The Honorable Jon E. Beetem, Judge.

For Appellant: Brian Timothy Meyers and Brian C. McCart, Kansas City, MO.

For Respondent: Michael B. Hunter and Lisa A. Larkin, St. Louis, MO.

Before Division III: Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge, and Gary D. Witt and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges. Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge. Gary D. Witt and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges, concur.

OPINION

Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge

Page 858

Mathew Wahl (" Wahl" ) brought an action under the Federal Employer's Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. § § 51-60 (" FELA" ) against his employer, Watco Companies,

Page 859

LLC (" Watco" ), for personal injuries. The Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri (" trial court" ), granted summary judgment to Watco, finding that it was not a common carrier by railroad. Wahl appeals. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural History

Wahl brought suit against Watco under FELA for injuries he suffered on July 19, 2010, while working within the scope of his duties as a mechanic for Watco at the Watco railcar repair facility located in Pittsburg, Kansas (" Pittsburg facility" ). Wahl alleged that he was performing repairs on a covered hopper. He jacked the railroad car and began pushing the wheels under the car. As he was pushing the car, he felt a sudden and intense pain in his back and left leg. Wahl claimed that his injuries were caused by Watco's negligence in failing to provide him with a reasonably safe place to work. The essence of his claim is that his injury is compensable under FELA because Watco is a " common carrier by railroad" engaged in interstate commerce.

Watco moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it is not and was not at the time of the alleged incident a common carrier by railroad; therefore, Wahl could not state a cause of action against it under FELA.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Watco and against Wahl, finding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Watco was not a common carrier by railroad.

Wahl timely appeals.

Standard of Review

The propriety of summary judgment is purely an issue of law, and appellate review is essentially de novo. ITT Commercial Fin. Corp. v. Mid-Am. Marine Supply Corp., 854 S.W.2d 371, 376 (Mo. banc 1993). We review the record in the light most favorable to the party against whom judgment was entered and accord the non-movant the benefit of all reasonable inferences ...


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