CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Hensley (Tennessee)
Plaintiff Thurston Hensley sued his employer, CSX Transportation, under the Federal Employees Liability Act, alleging that CSX negligently caused his asbestosis and seeking damages for (among other things) a fear of developing cancer in the future. At trial, CSX requested that the jury be instructed that to prevail on his fear-of-cancer claim, Hensley must prove that his fear is “genuine and serious.” The trial court denied the request and the jury returned a $5 million verdict for Hensley. The Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied review. We represented CSX before the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted certiorari, vacated the lower court’s judgment, and remanded the case without merits briefing or oral argument, holding that CSX was entitled to the jury instruction it requested. On remand, we successfully persuaded the Tennessee Court of Appeals that the error was not harmless and that a new trial was therefore required.