Firm obtains defense verdict in suicide case against Metro-North

March 22, 2011

RRD partner Chuck Deluca, with the assistance of RRD associate Beck Fineman, obtained a defense verdict in a suicide case tried to a jury for ten days in the federal court in New Haven.

RRD represented Metro-North Railroad in this case. The case began when a Metro-North employee claimed that his supervisor retaliated against him after he applied to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, for the birth of a child. The employee alleged that his supervisor called him names and belittled him for using FMLA, abolished his job and impeded his ability to transfer, resulting in an alleged constructive discharge. Metro-North counseled the supervisor not to engage in unprofessional conduct, but determined that the conduct at issue did not rise to retaliation. The supervisor did not intend to dissuade this particular employee, or any employee, from using FMLA; nor did the supervisor or Metro-North take any adverse actions against the employee in connection with his use of FMLA leave.

While the FMLA claim was pending, the employee committed suicide. His widow was named administratrix of the estate and pursued the lawsuit on the employee’s behalf. In addition to claiming FMLA retaliation, the widow also sought to recover damages for emotional distress the employee allegedly suffered and alleged that the FMLA retaliation caused her husband to later commit suicide. The widow also sought to recover damages for her husband’s death under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. Metro-North denied that it retaliated against the employee, that it intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him, or that it caused the employee to take his own life. The jury found in favor of Metro-North on each of the plaintiff’s claims.