PREEMPTION (RAILROADS & LOCOMOTIVES) / Court Case – In motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), held: Locomotive Inspection Act held to preempt state contract claims based on allegations by Plaintiff Canadian Pacific Railway / user of locomotive against manufacturers of seats used in locomotive made by GE Transportation that the seats failed to meet contracted safety requirements. The Act, “manifests Congress’s intent ‘to occupy the entire field of regulating locomotive equipment’ and, as such, pre-empts any state laws or regulations which pertain ‘to the design, the construction and the material of every part of the locomotive and tender and of all appurtenances.’”

Del. & Hudson Ry. Co. v. Knoedler Mfrs., Inc., C.A. No. 11-314 Erie (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, August 1, 2013). Court-issued opinion available here.

RAILROAD (TORTS) / Two lawsuits by railroad employees brought under twin legal grounds of (1) Federal Employer Liability Act alleging lawsuit for injuries railroad employees, and (2) Locomotive Inspection Act claiming based on railroad’s “railroad’s absolute and strict duty to provide safe equipment” (in both cases seating on locomotives).

Case #1

FELA lawsuit for injuries railroad employees claimed to have been caused by faulty locomotive seats: Held – The federal standard of the Locomotive Inspection Act governs this controversy and state tort law is thereby preempted.

In reaching this decision the court considered and rejected application of the Minnesota Supreme Court decision in Engvall v. Soo Line Railroad, 632 N.W.2d 560 (Minn. 2001). That case concerned injury to locomotive engineer and his claims under FELA and the Locomotive Inspection Act. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that: “(1) Railroad had state law cause of action based on violation of [the Locomotive Inspection Act]; (2) railroad could seek contribution from locomotive manufacturer; [and] (3) [the Locomotive Inspection Act] did not preempt railroad’s state law causes of action for contribution”.

Delaware & Hudson Railway Co. v. Knoedler Manufacturers, Inc., Slip copy, 2013 WL 504814 (February 12, 2013). Free copy available here.

Case #2

“[The Locomotive Inspection Act] supplements [the Federal Employers Liability Act] by imposing on interstate railroads an absolute and continuing duty to provide safe equipment” …. “[The Locomotive Inspection Act] does not confer a right of action on an injured plaintiff but rather allows a plaintiff to treat a proven [Locomotive Inspection Act] violation as negligence per se in an action under [the Federal Employers Liability Act].”

Payton v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 2013 WL 428650 (Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, February 5, 2013). Free copy available here.