Statements of claimant with suspected dementia are used to dismiss his claim
Paul Romig sued under the Federal Employers Liability Act, arguing that his railroad employers should be responsible for his degenerated back condition. When he was deposed, Romig offered the suggestion that during the 80s and 90s his doctors had told him that his employment was injuring his back. On this basis, the railroads brought a motion to dismiss the case because Romig had waited too long to sue. The Court granted the motion, over Romig's attorney's objection that Romig's claim was unreliable due to developing dementia.The Court rejected Romig's attorney's argument, pointing out that the attorney informed the defense attorney, at Romig's deposition, that he was not claiming that Romig was mentally incompetent. The Court also noted that Romig's attorney did not present any evidence of a medical diagnosis of dementia and that the attorney also never sought a hearing by the court into the issue of competency. Under the Court Rules, a witness is deemed competent unless the trial judge finds otherwise, and the court held that Romig cannot claim error in the court not examining the issue further where Romig's attorney contributed to that outcome.