(CN) – A train brakeman can sue his employer after he twisted his foot walking up a muddy embankment to relieve himself, the 6th Circuit ruled, because the train’s bathroom was allegedly too “dirty and smelly.”
En route to Cleveland, James Szekeres, a brakeman for CSX Transportation, went to use the train’s bathroom.
Szekeres claimed he found the train’s bathroom “dirty” and “unusable.” The trains are “old locomotives and they’re not kept up,” he later testified. “It’s just not a nice place and you don’t know what you can catch out of it.”
He got off the train and walked up a muddy embankment “to privately relieve himself among trees at the top,” the ruling states.
On his way up, he claims he slipped and twisted his knee.
He sued CSX under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act and the Locomotive Inspection Act, but a federal judge granted summary judgment to the railroad company.
The Cincinnati-based federal appeals court reversed, saying Szekeres offered enough evidence to survive summary judgment on his claim that the toilet was unsanitary.
“To conclude that the chemical smell Szekeres testified to was from a cleaning chemical requires weighing the evidence and construing inferences contrary to Szekeres’s testimony, neither of which is permitted at the summary judgment stage,” Judge Helene White wrote.
She noted that the brakeman had provided photos of the muddy area outside the train, raising a genuine dispute over whether CSX knew about hazardous conditions.
The three-judge panel reversed and remanded.