Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hughs v. Union Pacific Railroad Company

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.

April 14, 2017

RHONDA HUGHS, NEXT FRIEND TO TSG; RANDY GROVES, T.S.G., MINOR, BY NEXT FRIEND RHONDA HUGHS; Plaintiffs,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Now pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment - Preemption. (Doc. 36.) In their supporting and opposing suggestions, the parties dispute whether certain claims asserted by Plaintiffs are preempted by federal law or otherwise fail as a matter of law. After careful review, the Defendant's motion (doc. 36) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         This action for wrongful death arises from an automobile/train collision that occurred at a public railroad grade crossing in Trenton, Missouri. The accident occurred when a car driven by Nancy Groves (“Decedent”) collided with a train owned by Defendant. The resulting collision killed Decedent and her two passengers. Plaintiffs allege a number of ways in which Defendant was negligent. Defendant asserts that many of Plaintiffs' claims are preempted by federal law or fail for other reasons.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         “The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party who moves for summary judgment bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). An issue of fact is only genuine if it has a real basis in the record, and is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. at 248. When considering a motion for summary judgment, a court must scrutinize the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and the nonmoving party “must be given the benefit of all reasonable inferences.” Mirax Chem. Prods. Corp. v. First Interstate Commercial Corp., 950 F.2d 566, 569 (8th Cir. 1991) (citation omitted).

         In resisting summary judgment, the nonmoving party may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings, but must, by affidavit and other evidence, set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Thomas v. Corwin, 483 F.3d 516, 527 (8th Cir. 2007) (“mere allegations, unsupported by specific facts or evidence beyond the nonmoving party's own conclusions, are insufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment”). In so doing, the nonmoving party “cannot create sham issues of fact in an effort to defeat summary judgment.” RSBI Aerospace, Inc. v. Affiliated FM Ins. Co., 49 F.3d 399, 402 (8th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). “Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Specifically, “[f]ederal preemption is an affirmative defense, and therefore the Defendant bears the burden of proof.” Janero v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., No. 1:13-CV-155-TLS, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36822, at *13 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 15, 2017) (discussing federal preemption with respect to the Federal Railroad Safety Act).

         III. Discussion

         In its motion for summary judgment, Defendant raises the following preemption challenges to a number of Plaintiffs' claims: (A) federal law preempts Plaintiffs' claims that the train was traveling at an excessive speed; (B) federal law preempts Plaintiffs' claims related to the train's horn based on its sound, pattern and maintenance; and (C) federal law preempts Plaintiffs' claims for negligent training. Specifically, Defendant contends that the Federal Railroad Safety Act (“FRSA”), 49 U.S.C. § 20101 et seq, and the Locomotive Inspection Act (“LIA”), 49 U.S.C. § 20701 et seq, preempt these claims.

         The purpose of the FRSA is to promote “safety in every area of railroad operations and reduce railroad-related accidents and incidents.” See 49 U.S.C. § 20101. The FRSA has an express preemption and savings provision which states in relevant part:

(a) National uniformity of regulation.
(1) Laws, regulations, and orders related to railroad safety and laws, regulations, and orders related to railroad security shall be nationally uniform to the extent practicable.
(2) A State may adopt or continue in force a law, regulation, or order related to railroad safety or security until the Secretary of Transportation (with respect to railroad safety matters), . . . prescribes a regulation or issues an order covering the subject matter of the State requirement. A State may adopt or continue in force an additional or more stringent law, regulation, or order related to railroad safety or security when the law, regulation, or order-(A) is necessary to eliminate or reduce an essentially local safety or security hazard;
(B) is not incompatible with a law, regulation, or order of the United States Government; and
(C) does not unreasonably burden interstate commerce.
(b) Clarification regarding State law causes of action.
(1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt an action under State law seeking damages for personal injury, death, or property damage alleging that a party-(A) has failed to comply with the Federal standard of care established by a regulation or order issued by the Secretary of Transportation (with respect to railroad safety matters), . . . covering the subject matter as provided in subsection (a) of this section;
(B) has failed to comply with its own plan, rule, or standard that it created pursuant to a regulation or order issued by ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.