United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.
RHONDA HUGHS, NEXT FRIEND TO TSG; RANDY GROVES, T.S.G., MINOR, BY NEXT FRIEND RHONDA HUGHS; Plaintiffs,
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, Defendant.
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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.
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.
Summary Judgment Standard
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).
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).
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.
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
(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