Posts Tagged ‘railroad lawsuits’

2 NS Crew Members Allege Negligence in Lawsuit Stemming From 2021 Derailment

August 13, 2022

Two Norfolk Southern crew members injured in a December 2021 derailment caused by a rockslide have filed suit against their employer.

The locomotive engineer and train conductor, identified respectively as Matthew Marchionda and conductor Edward Mansfield, content in the lawsuit that negligence by NS led to the accident.

The derailment was noteworthy because one of the locomotives involved was ES44AC No. 8099, the Southern Railway heritage unit, which turned over on its side.

Two locomotives and five cars were derailed in the accident, which occurred in Baldwin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.

The train was en route from Chicago to New Jersey and was traveling about 40 p.m. when it struck the rockslide.

The lawsuit said Mansfield suffered a head injury, concussion, other injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Marchionda suffered a head injury, concussion, internal, and spinal injuries, the lawsuit said.

The suit argues NS was negligent because it failed to properly inspect the track or install protective fencing. Nor did it instruct crews to operate at a reduced speed because of dangerous conditions.

Michigan Appeals Court Reinstates Lawsuit Against Railroad In 2012 Trespassing Case

March 17, 2022

A Michigan appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the Grand Trunk Western Railroad stemming from a 2012 incident in which a teenager was struck by a train.

The case was brought by Jacob Marion who was 14 at the time he was hit. A court summary of the case indicated that Marion was walking down the tracks in Wyandotte in suburban Detroit while wearing headphones and listening to music.

A trial court judge had dismissed the case in 1989, citing evidence that the train crew sought to warn Marion but he didn’t respond.

In the appeals court decision, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher wrote that “a reasonable jury could conclude that [the] defendants had Jacob in plain sight and recognized his peril for a period of time sufficient to react so as not to strike him.”

The appeals court noted that although the train crew sounded the locomotive horn it did not activate the train’s emergency braking system in time to avoid striking Marion.

It also said trial judge Annette Berry in 1989 incorrectly interpreted a nineteenth century precedent as authority for dismissing the Marion’s case. The appeals court said tort law has come a long way since that case involving a deaf person struck by a hand car was decided in 1899.

The case was remanded to a Wayne County court for further consideration.

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.

CN Sues STB Over Line Sale Stipulation

April 29, 2021

Canadian National has gone to court to overturn a U.S. Surface Transportation Board edict in its proposed purchase of a CSX line.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, seeks to set aside some conditions the STB imposed when it approved the sale.

CN argues that the STB is required to approve a line sale unless the competitive harm of the transaction outweighs its benefits.

The transaction in question is 263.3 miles of the CSX Massena line between Syracuse, New York, and Montreal.

CN has proposed acquiring the track through its U.S. subsidiary Bessemer & Lake Erie

In approving the sale, the STB made it contingent upon the railroads removing a clause that would forever prohibit CN from seeking to interchange traffic with short lines Finger Lakes Railway and New York, Susquehanna & Western in the Syracuse area.

After CN and CSX were unable to come to terms with that stipulation, they asked the STB to reconsider its decision.

But the board refused and the line sale has been in limbo since late February.

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.

Judge Rules Against RRs in Fuel Surcharge Case

February 23, 2021

Four Class 1 railroads lost their bid to exclude certain evidence from litigation involved fuel surcharges the railroads imposed.

Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the carriers who argued that federal law allowed them to communicate to discuss interline agreements.

However, Judge Friedman said accepting this interpretation of the law in question “would extend its protection to discussions or agreements involving competing traffic,”

The judge said “this interpretation is inconsistent with Congress’s stated purpose to protect limited categories of discussions and agreements that concern interline movements.”

The lawsuit involves more than 200 shippers and names as defendants BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific.

The suit alleges that the railroads improperly agreed to impose the fuel surcharges starting in 2003.

Pa. High Court Spurns R&N Appeal

February 14, 2021

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not hear the appeal of the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern over the selection process used to choose an operator of five short line rail routes in central Pennsylvania.

R&N had commenced litigation to overturn a decision of the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority that favored an operator other than R&N to operate the lines.

A lower court had ruled that SEDA-COG was within its rights to eliminate R&N from proposals to operate the five lines.

In its legal briefs, R&N contended that although its bid had been ranked the lowest of those received by SEDA-COG, the process used to rank the bidder had been designed to eliminate R&N from consideration.

Lawsuit Seeks to Force Unions to Talk About Crew Size

October 8, 2019

A railroad union is being sued by eight railroads in an effort to force it to bargain over train crew size in upcoming contract talks.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court for the Northern District of Texas against the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Division by BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern and three other railroads, two of which (Illinois Central and Grand Trunk Western) exist on paper because they are part of Canadian National.

The eighth railroad in the lawsuit is the Belt Railway of Chicago.

The suit contends that the union has refused to negotiate crew sizes at the national level. The union has contended that negotiating over crew size is banned under its current contracts with the railroads.

The railroads disagree with that interpretation of the contract and want the dispute to be resolved through arbitration.

The lawsuit described the issue of crew size as “one of the most contentious issues that has ever arisen in collective bargaining between the railroads and the unions.”

Negotiations for a new contract are expected to begin on Nov. 1 and the railroads want to talk about crew sizes during those sessions.

The lawsuit contends that the railroads “will be unable to progress the bargaining in the face of SMART-TD’s  . . . tactics to delay or obstruct any negotiations over crew consist. Every day that the railroads are unable to obtain new agreements is another day that they are unable to realize the benefits of more efficient and productive operations, and there is no way for the railroads to recover those lost potential savings.”

In a news release, SMART described the lawsuit as not the first time that railroads have tried to “attack” the crew size issue.

Typically, contract talks over wages, benefits and work rules are conducted by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents all Class I roads and a number of smaller ones, with 12 unions representing 140,000 railroad workers.

The last round of negotiations between began in January 2015 and drug on for three years.

Because labor contracts do not expire so there is no deadline for negotiations.