Sells v. CSX Transportation, Inc. (Florida)
Larry Sells was a conductor for CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) who died after experiencing sudden cardiac arrest while working in a remote location. His widow sued CSXT in Florida state court under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), alleging that CSXT should have provided automated external defibrillators to crews working in remote locations, should have required employees to undergo mandatory training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and negligently delayed the arrival of emergency medical technicians. The jury found CSXT liable under FELA, concluded that the plaintiff suffered $1.98 million in damages, but also found that Sells bore 45% of the fault for his death because he had falsely represented to CSXT that he had never suffered chest pains and had failed to disclose that he had three abnormal EKGs. We were retained to assist with post-trial briefing and with the appeal. In response to our briefing, the trial court set aside the verdict and granted judgment to CSXT. A divided panel of the Florida First District Court of Appeal thereafter affirmed the judgment in favor of CSXT, agreeing with us that CSXT had no duty to provide AEDs or to train its employees in CPR and that the delay in summoning the EMTs did not cause the decedent’s death because the EMTs were too far away to be able to save his life. Although the Florida Supreme Court later granted review, we successfully persuaded the court to dismiss jurisdiction as improvidently granted. The plaintiff has filed a petition for certiorari in the US Supreme Court, which we have opposed.