Posts Tagged ‘lawsuits’

Indiana High Court Rules Against Track Worker

December 21, 2021

An Indiana court has ruled that the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District is a “political subdivision” of the state.

The Indiana Supreme Court made the finding in upholding a lower court ruling involving a case in which a track worker filed a claim for damages after he injured his shoulder while driving spikes.

NICTD operates the South Shore Line commuter service between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

The injury to the track worker occurred in Illinois and the injured worker, Clarence Lowe, of Hobart, Indiana, has originally sued NICTD in an Illinois court.

After that court dismissed the claim because NICTD did not give consent to being sued in Illinois, Lowe filed a notice of tort claim in Indiana in October 2018.

The issue in the case decided by the Indiana high court was whether NICTD was a “political subdivision” of the state.

If so, then claims against it must be filed within 180 days of the date of the injury. However, Lowe filed his notice of tort claim 263 days after he had been injured.

In his petition to the Indiana Supreme Court, Lowe argued that federal law enabled him to sue NICTD within 270 days of an injury.

That contention was rejected by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which dismissed Lowe’s lawsuit against NICTD because it had not been filed within 180 days of his injury.

Court Consolidates Vaccine Rule Lawsuits

November 24, 2021

A federal court in Illinois has consolidated lawsuits involving Class 1 railroads and their unions over COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

The action was taken by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and involves Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and two other unions.

The Class 1 railroads have cited a federal executive order in requiring their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

The unions argue that the vaccine edict by the carriers violates the collective bargaining process.

In a related development, unions representing Amtrak workers have filed suit over the passenger’s carrier’s vaccination requirement.

BLET and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) said they generally support vaccination but want Amtrak to engage in collective bargaining over the issue.

The unions claim Amtrak is negotiating directly with employees rather than talking with their unions.

The lawsuit against Amtrak raised many of the same issues as those in the litigation involving NS and UP.

Amtrak is requiring its workers to submit proof of vaccination before Dec. 8. Those workers who have received just dose of the vaccine have until Jan. 4, 2022, to show proof of being full vaccinated.

The carrier has threatened to fire workers who failed to comply with the rules.

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.”