Lane v. Sims, No. 00-60215

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore BARKSDALE, EMILIO M. GARZA, and BENAVIDES; RHESA HAWKINS BARKSDALE
Citation241 F.3d 439
Parties(5th Cir. 2001) DONALD G. LANE, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v. R. A. SIMS, JR., INC., ABC, That Person, Firm, Company, or Entity That Employed Daniel Wallace At The Time of The Crossing Collision Which Makes The Basis of This Suit; DE&F, That Person, Firm, Company or Entity Who Negligently Entrusted The Truck To Daniel Wallace; GH&I, That Person, Firm, Company, or Entity Who Leased, and/or Maintained and Inspected The Crossing Which Is The Subject Of This Lawsuit; JK&L; MN&O, Defendants-Appellees, CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant
Decision Date06 February 2001
Docket NumberNo. 00-60215

Page 439

241 F.3d 439 (5th Cir. 2001)
DONALD G. LANE, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
R. A. SIMS, JR., INC., ABC, That Person, Firm, Company, or Entity That Employed Daniel Wallace At The Time of The Crossing Collision Which Makes The Basis of This Suit; DE&F, That Person, Firm, Company or Entity Who Negligently Entrusted The Truck To Daniel Wallace; GH&I, That Person, Firm, Company, or Entity Who Leased, and/or Maintained and Inspected The Crossing Which Is The Subject Of This Lawsuit; JK&L; MN&O, Defendants-Appellees,
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
No. 00-60215
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, FIFTH CIRCUIT
February 6, 2001

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Copyrighted Material Omitted

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Before BARKSDALE, EMILIO M. GARZA, and BENAVIDES, Circuit Judges.

RHESA HAWKINS BARKSDALE, Circuit Judge:

For this negligence action arising out of a collision at a crossing between a train and a vehicle, primarily at issue is whether the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. §§ 20101-20153, and a regulation promulgated thereunder, 49 C.F.R. § 213.9, which set maximum train speeds for different classes of tracks, preclude a railroad employee's negligence action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. §§ 51-60, the employee claiming the train was proceeding at an excessive speed when involved in the collision, even though it was traveling below the speed limit established by the regulation. Railroad employee Donald G. Lane appeals the summary judgment granted CSX Transportation, Inc. (the railroad), and the denial of his motion for a new trial as to R. A. Sims, Jr., Inc. (the vehicle); CSX cross-appeals the denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law on its cross-claim against Sims. We AFFIRM.

I.

Lane's FELA action against CSX and Sims alleged he was injured when the train on which he was working as an engineer for CSX collided with Sims' tractor-trailer, driven by Wallace, at a crossing in Gulfport, Mississippi. Immediately prior to the collision, the train was traveling 44 miles per hour. The CSX speed limit for that crossing was 45 miles per hour, while the speed limit established for that crossing by Federal Railway Administration Track Safety Standards, 49 C.F.R. § 213.9, was 60 miles per hour. Among other things, Lane's negligence claim against CSX asserted: the train was traveling at

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an excessive and unsafe speed under the circumstances (heavy lunchtime traffic at a downtown crossing).

CSX cross-claimed against Sims, asserting, inter alia: its employee, Wallace (the vehicle driver), was negligent for failing to yield the right-of-way to the train; and Sims failed to comply with a Mississippi statute requiring it to notify CSX in advance of its travel over the crossing. Lane made similar negligence claims against Sims.

The district court granted partial summary judgment for CSX on Lane's FELA excessive-speed claim. The remaining issues were tried to a jury, which found no negligence on the part of CSX, Sims, or Lane. The district court denied new trial motions by Lane and CSX.

II.

Lane challenges the summary judgment granted CSX on his FELA excessive-speed claim and the denial of a new trial on his negligence claim against Sims. CSX contests the denial of judgment as a matter of law on its cross-claim against Sims.

A.

The FELA provides the exclusive remedy for a railroad employee injured as a result of his employer's negligence. See, e.g., Wabash R.R. Co. v. Hayes, 234 U.S. 86, 89 (1914); Janelle v. Seaboard Coast Line R.R. Co., 524 F.2d 1259, 1261 (5th Cir. 1975). It authorizes an injured railroad employee to recover damages from his employer for "injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the [railroad's] negligence". 45 U.S.C. § 51. But, by summary judgment, the district court held Lane's FELA excessive-speed claim was precluded by the FRSA and the track-speed regulations promulgated thereunder.

FRSA's stated purpose "is to promote safety in every area of railroad operations and reduce railroad-related accidents and incidents". 49 U.S.C. § 20101. It authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to "prescribe regulations and issue orders for every area of railroad safety", 49 U.S.C. § 20103(a); and provides that "[l]aws, regulations, and orders related to railroad safety shall be nationally uniform to the extent practicable". 49 U.S.C. § 20106 (emphasis added).

The Secretary of Transportation has promulgated regulations pursuant to this authority, including establishing maximum train speeds for various classes of railroad tracks. 49 C.F.R. § 213.9. It is undisputed that the train involved in the collision was not exceeding the 60-mile-per-hour speed limit established by those regulations for the subject crossing.

The FRSA's goal of national uniformity for laws and regulations relating to railroad safety does not preclude a FELA excessive-speed claim, according to Lane, because the FRSA and FELA are not in conflict. He asserts FRSA speed regulations are minimum safety requirements, compliance with which is evidence of due care, but does not preclude finding negligence if reasonable railroads would have taken additional precautions to prevent injury to their employees.

The Supreme Court considered the FRSA speed limit regulations in CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Easterwood, 507 U.S. 658 (1993). A state common law action, arising out of a truck driver's death in a crossing collision, was filed against the railroad; the action claimed, inter alia, the train was traveling at an excessive speed. It was conceded, however, that the train was traveling at less than the maximum speed established in 49 C.F.R. § 213.9. Id. at 673. The Court held the claim preempted by the FRSA's express preemption provision. Id. at 675. That provision allows States to regulate railroad safety "until the Secretary of Transportation prescribes a regulation or issues an order covering the

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subject matter of the State requirement". 49 U.S.C. § 20106 (emphasis added).

The Easterwood plaintiff contended that the maximum speed limits established in the regulations were merely ceilings, permitting imposition of liability against the railroad if plaintiff could establish the conditions required a lower speed. Id. at 673-74. The Court held otherwise; because the Secretary of Transportation had considered the hazards posed by track conditions before adopting the regulations, "the speed limits must be read as not only establishing a ceiling, but also precluding additional state regulation of the sort" plaintiff urged. Id. at 674.

Because the case at hand involves a claim under another federal statute, FELA, Easterwood, which dealt with a state common law claim subject to FRSA's express preemption provision, is not controlling. Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit found Easterwood persuasive in concluding that a FELA excessive-speed claim was inconsistent with FRSA's goal of national uniformity. Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 121 S.Ct. 856, ___ L.Ed.2d ___ (2001). The Waymire plaintiff was the conductor on a train that collided with a truck at a crossing. Id. at 774. The train was traveling at 23 miles per hour, well under the 60-miles-per-hour speed limit set by the federal regulations. Noting that the operation of the trains in Waymire and Easterwood was identical (traveling at less than the FRSA approved speed), the Seventh Circuit stated: "It would ... seem absurd to reach a contrary conclusion ... when the Supreme Court has already found that the conduct is not culpable negligence". Id. at 776 (emphasis added).

Two other district courts considering similar FELA claims have...

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88 practice notes
  • Noice v. BNSF Ry. Co., S–1–SC–35198
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • 18 Agosto 2016
    ...decisions that have already embraced this reasoning and conclusion and asks us to follow suit. E.g., Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc. , 241 F.3d 439, 442–44 (5th Cir. 2001); Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co. , 218 F.3d 773, 775–76 (7th Cir. 2000). For the reasons that follow, we decline to fo......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • 21 Enero 2020
    ...by a non-employee under state law." 560 F.3d at 430. The Sixth Circuit relied on two prior decisions: Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc. , 241 F.3d 439 (5th Cir. 2001), and Waymire v. Norfolk and Western Ry. Co. , 218 F.3d 773 (7th Cir. 2000). BNSF relies primarily on these three cases to su......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • 24 Enero 2020
    ...non-employee under state law." 560Page 21 F.3d at 430. The Sixth Circuit relied on two prior decisions: Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439 (5th Cir. 2001), and Waymire v. Norfolk and Western Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773 (7th Cir. 2000). BNSF relies primarily on these three cases to su......
  • Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Zeagler, No. S12G2031.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • 23 Septiembre 2013
    ...FELA negligence claims. See Nickels v. Grand Trunk Western R.R., Inc., 560 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir.2009); Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir.2001); Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir.2000). See also Cowden, 690 F.3d at 892 (assuming arguendo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
88 cases
  • Noice v. BNSF Ry. Co., S–1–SC–35198
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • 18 Agosto 2016
    ...decisions that have already embraced this reasoning and conclusion and asks us to follow suit. E.g., Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc. , 241 F.3d 439, 442–44 (5th Cir. 2001); Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co. , 218 F.3d 773, 775–76 (7th Cir. 2000). For the reasons that follow, we decline to fo......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • 21 Enero 2020
    ...by a non-employee under state law." 560 F.3d at 430. The Sixth Circuit relied on two prior decisions: Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc. , 241 F.3d 439 (5th Cir. 2001), and Waymire v. Norfolk and Western Ry. Co. , 218 F.3d 773 (7th Cir. 2000). BNSF relies primarily on these three cases to su......
  • Dawson v. BNSF Ry. Co., No. 112,925
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • 24 Enero 2020
    ...non-employee under state law." 560Page 21 F.3d at 430. The Sixth Circuit relied on two prior decisions: Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439 (5th Cir. 2001), and Waymire v. Norfolk and Western Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773 (7th Cir. 2000). BNSF relies primarily on these three cases to su......
  • Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Zeagler, No. S12G2031.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • 23 Septiembre 2013
    ...FELA negligence claims. See Nickels v. Grand Trunk Western R.R., Inc., 560 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir.2009); Lane v. R.A. Sims, Jr., Inc., 241 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir.2001); Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry. Co., 218 F.3d 773, 776 (7th Cir.2000). See also Cowden, 690 F.3d at 892 (assuming arguendo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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