Posts Tagged ‘lawsuits’

Jury Sides With CSX in Civil Case

September 7, 2021

A Pennsylvania jury found CSX to be no negligent during a jury trial in a federal district court for injuries suffered by a pedestrian struck by a train in January 2013.

The case, which was heard in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, involved a lawsuit filed by Jonathan Lopex, 34, who suffered the loss of a leg below the knee and brain damage.

He had sought more than $2 million in damages in the civil action.

Attorneys for Lopez said the crew of the train failed to exercise reasonable care by allowing the train to travel in excess of the speed limit and failing to stop the train to avoid striking Lopez.

CSX countered that Lopez was primarily responsible for the accident because he was walking with his head down and listening to music.

The railroad’s attorneys contended that had Lopez listened for the locomotive bell, horn and ambient noise he would have hear the train coming.

The accident occurred at a public grade crossing with warning lights.  Evidence introduced at trial indicated the train was traveling between 11 and 14 mph on a segment of track where the top speed is 11 mph.

Indiana High Court to Review NICTD Status

June 24, 2021

The legal status of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District will be reviewed by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a Hobart, Indiana, man who was injured while working on a South Shore Line track maintenance project.

NICTD oversee the South Shore, which operates commuter trains between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

A lower court had ruled that NICTD is an arm of the state for some matters but not for others. In the latter, NICTD is a political subdivision of the state just as is a city.

The lawsuit in question challenges NICTD holding both statuses at the same time.

The plaintiff had initially filed suit in Illinois then sought to file suit in Indiana but missed the filing deadline.

NICTD argues that the lower-court decision be upheld because its unique status has been recognized in Indiana and Illinois courts for decades.

Union Sues CSX Over Payroll Errors

March 17, 2021

CSX has been sued by the union representing its maintenance-of-way workers over what the lawsuit alleges is the failure of the company to correct payroll errors that resulted from a new payment system.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Kentucky by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division Allied Federation.

The union contends that CSX unilateral implemented its TimeTrax program in violation of a requirement to reach agreement with the union before making changes in rates, terms, and working conditions.

Other allegations in the lawsuit are that payroll errors are widespread and that some workers have seen their paychecks shorted by thousands of dollars.

CSX and the union had sought to reach an out-of-court agreement, but the union said settlement discussions have failed.

“We have asked that all the problems be resolved, but management still does not appear to recognize that TimeTrax is a serious problem, let alone one that should have been fixed already,” said BMWED Allied Federal General Chairman Dennis Albers said in a statement.

Lawsuit Against NS on Hold During Talks

October 15, 2020

A lawsuit against Norfolk Southern by the City of Bluefield, West Virginia, is on hold after the two sides began talks to resolve a dispute over a bridge.

Bluefield said last month it would sue NS over the 2019 closing of the Grant Street Bridge. City officials said closing the bridge cut off a direct route between downtown and the city’s east and north sides.

Mayor Ron Washington said there is no assurance that the talks will result in a satisfactory outcome but “we believe that they (NS) have approached us in good faith.”

The city took steps to initiate litigation, saying NS had failed to meet its obligations to maintain the bridge.

W.Va. City Wants NS to Reopen Bridge

September 23, 2020

A West Virginia city is going to court to try to reverse Norfolk Southern’s closure of a bridge in June 2019.

The city of Bluefield said it will sue the railroad over its closure of the Grant Street bridge, which city officials say connects the east end and north side of town with the central business district.

Bluefield’s City Board of Directions authorized the lawsuit, citing a lack of communication from the railroad.

City officials plan to cite a 1940 agreement that requires the railroad to maintain the steel superstructure and masonry supports of the bridge.

Since the closure of the bridge, residents have been forced to use a narrow road, which has resulted in an increase in the response time for emergency vehicles.

States Sue to Stop LNG by Rail Rule

August 20, 2020

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit this week seeking to overturn a rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation allowing the bulk transport by rail of liquefied natural gas.

The suit, which was filed in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, cites health and safety concerns.

The rule, originally promulgated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would permit bulk transport by rail of LNG.

That agency worked in tandem with the Federal Railroad Administration to write the rule, which became final in June.

The states filing the lawsuit included California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

They were joined by several environmental groups led by Earthjustice.

They are contending that PHMSA’s failure to evaluate the environmental impacts of the rule is unlawful, and the rule lacks the necessary safety requirements to minimize the risk to public safety associated with transporting LNG by rail.

Most of the same states had during the rule making process opposed the rule.

The states said they will argue in court that the final rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act, National Environmental Policy Act and Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

Agency Wants RR Conversations used in Court

July 16, 2020

Discussions among Class 1 railroads about fuel prices should not be excluded from being introduced during litigation involving alleged price fixing the U.S. Department of Justice argued recently in a court filing.

The agency filed a legal brief saying the broad application of law that the railroads are seeking the court to adopt “would exclude critical evidence of antitrust violations.”

The litigation, which dates to 2007, involved dozens of lawsuits filed against BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

The lawsuits allege that the railroads coordinated the imposition of fuel surcharges and that conspiracy led to billions of dollars in profit.

The railroads have contended that an obscure federal law protects such conversations among carriers.

Amtrak Seeks Dismissal of Arbitration Lawsuit

March 3, 2020

Amtrak is seeking to have a court dismiss a lawsuit that contends the passenger carrier violated the law when it included a mandatory arbitration clause in its condition of carriage contract.

Amtrak attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming the plaintiffs lack standing to sue and that the constitutional claims made in the lawsuit are invalid.

The lawsuit was filed by Public Citizen, an advocacy group on behalf of consumer rights.

In its motion, Amtrak said one of the two listed plaintiffs has not bought an Amtrak ticket and neither of the listed plaintiffs have been subjected to the arbitration clause.

As for the constitutional claims in the lawsuit, Amtrak said it “is not the government for purposes of implementing an arbitration agreement and so no constitutional claim can stand.”

The passenger carrier argued that even if a court were to rule that it is considered the government, “it is well established that government arbitration poses no per se constitutional problem.”

Amtrak lawyers have also argued that the lawsuits constitutional arguments are “so expansive in application that they could derail both public and private arbitration.”

Amusement Tax Lawsuit Dropped Against Lehigh Gorge

November 22, 2019

A Pennsylvania city and school district have dropped their lawsuit against the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway seeking unpaid taxes and are not trying to entice the line to stay.

The Lehigh Gorge had said last month that it would cease operating from Jim Thorpe on Nov. 25 because the borough and a school district have sought to force it to pay more than $95,000 in amusement taxes.

The tourist line, which is owned by the Reading & Northern Railroad had refused to pay the tax, saying it is not an amusement and therefore not subject to the tax.

Borough and railroad officials have reportedly held two meetings seeking to return operations of the Lehigh Gorge to Jim Thorpe in 2020.

Borough council president Greg Strubinger said the city had decided to end the lawsuit, but reserved the right to refill it if the two sides fails to reach an agreement.

It is unclear if the borough will seek other means to collect the unpaid taxes.

Strubinger said one purpose of the discussions was show the railroad its concerns with some of the financial restraints and constraints that the city faces.

Amtrak Quietly Imposed Arbitration on Passengers

November 12, 2019

Amtrak quietly has changed the “terms and conditions” of tickets to prohibit passengers from suing the carrier if they suffer injuries while riding trains.

Instead, Amtrak is now forcing aggrieved passengers to submit to binding arbitration.

The arbitration clause effectively prohibits passengers from suing Amtrak for claims “including, but not limited to . . . negligence, gross negligence, physical impairment, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, wrongful death, survival actions, loss of consortium and/or services, medical and hospital expenses, expenses of transportation for medical treatment, expenses of drugs and medical appliances, emotional distress, exemplary or punitive damages arising out of or related to any personal injury.”

It also requires that arbitration cases are individual and prohibits class or group actions.

The arbitration clause appears about two-thirds of the way into the 15,500 word statement of terms and conditions that few passengers are likely to read.

Industry observers say the arbitration clause was added after Amtrak paid a $265 million court settlement stemming from a May 12, 2015, derailment in Philadelphia that left eight dead and 238 injured.

The arbitration settlement clause was imposed in January and received little attention until it was reported by the website Politico last week.

The arbitration clause is expected to be the subject of discussion on Wednesday at a hearing on Amtrak by the House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.

The Senate Commerce Committee is also expected to review the issue.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said his office is reviewing the matter.

“‘There’s no reason why consumer complaints about Amtrak should involve mandatory arbitration,” he said. “Consumers might wish to have arbitration . . . but they shouldn’t be forced to.”

By federal law, airlines are banned from imposing arbitration clauses, but many bus operators, cruise ship lines and rideshare companies already have arbitration clauses that prohibits post-accident passenger/survivor lawsuits.

“‘It is one of the most anti-consumer and passenger clauses I’ve ever seen,’ said Julia Duncan, Senior Director for Government Affairs at the American Association for Justice, which represents trial lawyers, in an interview with Politico.

She said Amtrak’s arbitration clause is unusually broad and detailed. It describes a wide array of possible incidents that would have to go to arbitration.

“Most forced arbitration clauses do not go into much detail about what they cover,” Duncan said.

Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods told Politico the clause was added to resolve customer claims more efficiently, adding that it won’t affect most customer complaints, which are settled directly with the carrier.

Generally, legal observers say, the courts have upheld arbitration clauses because no one is forcing the consumer to buy a particular product.

One source told Politico that forcing customers into arbitration is “the hot new strategy all across corporate America.”