Kitchen v. CSX Transp., Inc., S94Q1242

CourtSupreme Court of Georgia
Writing for the CourtTHOMPSON; All the Justices concur, except BENHAM, P.J., and CARLEY; SEARS
Citation265 Ga. 206,453 S.E.2d 712
PartiesKITCHEN et al. v. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC. et al.
Docket NumberNo. S94Q1242,S94Q1242
Decision Date27 February 1995

Page 712

453 S.E.2d 712
265 Ga. 206
KITCHEN et al.
No. S94Q1242.
Supreme Court of Georgia.
Feb. 27, 1995.
Reconsideration Denied March 20, 1995.

Page 713

[265 Ga. 210] William T. Gerard, Gerard & Matthews, Athens, Billy E. Moore, Atlanta, for Kitchen.

Jack H. Senterfitt, Linda G. Carpenter, Robin Goff [265 Ga. 211] Mayer, Alston & Bird, Atlanta, for CSX Transp., Inc.

[265 Ga. 206] THOMPSON, Justice.

This case is before the Court on a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The facts and procedural history, as established in the opinion of the Eleventh Circuit, 1 are summarized as follows: The incident giving rise to this litigation occurred while John David Kitchen was operating his motor vehicle on Elbert County Road 77. 2 That portion of County Road 77 had at one time included a timber bridge, which crossed above railroad tracks owned by Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, now CSX Transportation, Inc. ("CSXT"). 3 By 1979, the bridge had deteriorated, and the county decided that the portion of County Road 77 where the [265 Ga. 207] bridge was situated was no longer necessary to through traffic. Consequently, Elbert County entered into an agreement with the railroad, whereby CSXT would remove the bridge, and the County would furnish barricades on either side of County Road 77 where the road terminated. The barricades constructed by the county consisted of piles of rock and dirt.

In May 1988, Kitchen drove his truck over a barricade and into the chasm formerly spanned by the bridge. The vehicle fell some twenty-six feet onto the railroad tracks below, where it was later struck by a train. Kitchen was found dead at the scene. Kitchen's parents, individually and as representatives of his estate (appellants herein), brought this negligence action against CSXT and Elbert County. 4 The district court granted CSXT's motion for summary judgment on the finding that CSXT "had no duty to erect or maintain any barriers at the ends of County Road No. 77."

Page 714

Concluding that resolution of the case involves questions of Georgia law which are dispositive but unanswered by precedent of this Court, the Eleventh Circuit certified the following questions:

1. Under the set of facts described above, did CSX Transportation, Inc. owe a duty to John David Kitchen?

2. If a duty was owed, what was the nature of the duty?

We answer the first question, which is dispositive, in the negative.

1. In 1973, the Georgia Code of Public Transportation ("GCPT"), OCGA § 32-1-1 et seq., Ga.L.1973, p. 947, § 1, was enacted "to revise, classify, consolidate and repeal ... other laws relating to all public roads [and] bridges, ... and to establish new laws relating thereto...." Ga.L.1973, p. 947. The purpose and legislative intent of the GCPT is further set out in OCGA § 32-1-2, as follows: "to provide a code of statutes for the public roads and other transportation facilities of the state, the counties, and municipalities of Georgia. The legislative intent is to provide an effective legal basis for the organization, administration, and operation of an efficient, modern system of public roads and other modes of transportation."

Prior to the enactment of the GCPT, former Ga.Code Ann. § 94-503, placed an absolute duty on railroads to maintain in good order all [265 Ga. 208] public roads and embankments over railroad tracks. See Southern Railway Co. v. Brooks, 112 Ga.App. 324(1), 145 S.E.2d 76 (1965). 5 The GCPT redelegated these obligations to local and state government. OCGA § 32-6-197(b) provides:

It shall be the duty of the county or the municipality to maintain at its own expense the drainage, surface, pavement, approaches, and guardrails of all overpasses involving railroads on its respective public road system. It shall be the duty of the railroad involved to maintain at its own expense any floors constructed of wood and the foundations, piers, abutments, and superstructures of all overpasses on the county or municipal public road system.

Thus, under the GCPT, the statutory duty to maintain the public road and any warning devices thereon leading to the former site of the timber bridge was exclusively that of the county, both at the time the bridge was removed and at the time of the decedent's injury. 6

2. Appellants contend, and the Eleventh Circuit questions whether, there remains a common law duty independent of the GCPT, requiring CSXT to guard the safety of those who may be injured by an inherently dangerous condition and nuisance...

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11 cases
  • Johns v. CSX Transp., Inc., CASE No.: 1:14-CV-125 (LJA)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Georgia
    • 28 Septiembre 2016
    ...entities, including railroads, from placing traffic control devices on the public roads." 239 Ga.App. 262, 263, 519 S.E.2d 706 (quoting 265 Ga. 206, 208, n.6, 453 S.E.2d 712 (1995) ). Subsequently in Fortner, the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that footnote 6 in Kitchen was dicta, overruled......
  • Crockett v. Norfolk Southern Ry. Co., CivA 1:98-CV-979-CAM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • 20 Marzo 2000
    ...the railroad is required to erect and maintain a railroad crossbuck sign. Id. at 263-64, 519 S.E.2d 706 (quoting Kitchen v. CSX Transp., 265 Ga. 206, 453 S.E.2d 712 (1995) (ellipses in original)). "The GCPT delegates management and control of grade crossings, traffic control devices and sig......
  • Evans Timber Co. v. Central of Ga. R. Co.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 22 Junio 1999
    ...of Ga. R. Co. v. Markert, 200 Ga.App. 851(4), 410 S.E.2d 437 (1991). However, the Supreme Court's decision in Kitchen v. CSX Transp., 265 Ga. 206(1), 453 S.E.2d 712 (1995) causes us to revisit the application of the GCPT to a railroad's common-law duty to install protective In Kitchen, supr......
  • Csx Transp. v. Trism Specialized Carriers
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • 4 Junio 1998
    ...laws relating to all public roads [and] bridges, ... and to establish new laws relating thereto ...." Kitchen v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 265 Ga. 206, 207, 453 S.E.2d 712 (1995)(citing Ga.L.1973, p. 947.; O.C.G.A. § 32-1-1 et seq.). The purpose and legislative intent of the GCPT is further......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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