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The Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming a circuit court’s denial of Illinois Central Railroad’s request for a setoff of a jury verdict awarded to Bennie Oakes through his representative Clara Hagan. As described by Illinois Central, who as appellant framed the issues for appeal, “This case is about whether, once those damages are assessed by a jury, a railroad company under the [Federal Employers’ Liability Act] is entitled to a credit or reduction of that verdict for sums that have already been paid by others to the Plaintiff for the same injuries and damages.” In Illinois Central’s answer, it raised an affirmative defense that it was entitled to apportionment or set off liability and/or damages for any negligence of or damages caused by third parties. However, Illinois Central later clarified its position that it was not attempting to have negligence apportioned, and the circuit court echoed the clarification by stating that Illinois Central had not “tried to use a third, an empty chair for any other defendants.” The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals misconstrued the primary case it relied upon and ignored other federal precedent; therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and the circuit court’s denial of Illinois Central’s motion for a setoff. View "Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Oakes" on Justia Law

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Atlas, an authorized interstate transporter of household goods, contracts with agents to perform its shipments. One of its agents, Ace, leases trucks and driving services from owner-operators. In 2009, owner-operator Mervyn entered into a lease agreement with Ace to haul shipments for Atlas. In 2013, Mervyn sued Atlas and Ace in a purported class action, alleging breach of contract and violations of the federal Truth-In-Leasing regulations under 49 C.F.R. 376.12(d). The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Atlas and Ace. Mervyn advanced claims that are necessarily inconsistent: that he was not paid according to the plain terms of the lease and that the lease violated the Truth-In-Leasing regulations because the terms were not “clearly stated.” Mervyn never disputed the financial entries he complained of until he filed this lawsuit, in violation of a contract provision allowing a 30-day window to dispute financial entries. Mervyn was compensated according to the plain and ordinary terms of the lease. View "Mervyn v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc." on Justia Law

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The bus drivers in this case were not entitled to overtime payment because their employer was licensed and regulated pursuant to the common carrier statute. Plaintiff-bus drivers worked for Eastern Bus Company. Eastern Bus provided charter service, for which it must hold a license under the common carrier statute, and transportation of school students between home and school, which does not constitute charter service. The bus drivers, who performed both of these services, claimed that they were entitled to overtime payment because, among other things, the exemption to the Massachusetts overtime statute (see Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, 1A(11)) only applied during the hours Eastern Bus was providing charter service. The superior court concluded that Eastern Bus did not enjoy “a blanket exemption” for all employees, regardless of the particular duties they perform, that the overtime exemption did not apply, and that Plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on their claim for overtime wages. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the bus drivers were not entitled to overtime payment because their employer was licensed and regulated pursuant to the common carrier statute. View "Casseus v. Eastern Bus Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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The bus drivers in this case were not entitled to overtime payment because their employer was licensed and regulated pursuant to the common carrier statute. Plaintiff-bus drivers worked for Eastern Bus Company. Eastern Bus provided charter service, for which it must hold a license under the common carrier statute, and transportation of school students between home and school, which does not constitute charter service. The bus drivers, who performed both of these services, claimed that they were entitled to overtime payment because, among other things, the exemption to the Massachusetts overtime statute (see Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151, 1A(11)) only applied during the hours Eastern Bus was providing charter service. The superior court concluded that Eastern Bus did not enjoy “a blanket exemption” for all employees, regardless of the particular duties they perform, that the overtime exemption did not apply, and that Plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on their claim for overtime wages. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the bus drivers were not entitled to overtime payment because their employer was licensed and regulated pursuant to the common carrier statute. View "Casseus v. Eastern Bus Company, Inc." on Justia Law

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Thompson pulled his JBS tractor/trailer onto the shoulder, activated his four‐way flashers, and fixed a malfunctioning light. With the flashers still on, he had just reentered the highway and was traveling 15-18 miles an hour when Hasib came around a curve and crashed into the back of his trailer. The impact killed Hasib instantly and set his E.J.A. truck on fire. Hasib’s son, Edin, who also drove for E.J.A., saw that his father’s truck on fire, parked, and attempted to pull his father from the cab. Edin suffered burns. On hearing of her husband’s death, Esma had to be taken to a hospital. As a result of Major Depressive Disorder, Esma never returned to work. Edin suffered PTSD. Hasib's daughter attempted suicide at her father’s grave. Hasib’s estate brought claims under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and the Illinois rescue doctrine. The companies asserted counterclaims under the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act. On the wrongful death claim, a jury attributed 55 percent of the fault to Thompson and JBS and reduced its $5,000,000 damage award by 45 percent; it awarded Edin $625,000 on his rescue claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding the court’s refusal to give a jury instruction on the duty to mitigate damages, instead giving instructions related to “careful habits” and “exigent circumstances.” The court rejected arguments that the court should have apportioned Edin’s award and that the court erred in allowing an award for Esma’s lost earnings. View "Karahodzic v. JBS Carriers, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting a motion to dismiss Union Pacific's counterclaims in class actions filed by landowners challenging the railroad's ability to lease land to Santa Fe Pacific Pipelines (SFPP). The panel rejected plaintiffs' contention that the panel should not reach the merits of the certified questions and declined to apply the doctrine of collateral estoppel. With respect to the first certified question, the panel held that the pre-1871 Acts, which Congress passed to aid in the construction of railroad lines, do not require a "railroad purpose." In regard to the second certified question, the panel held that Union Pacific has plausibly alleged that the pipeline serves such a purpose. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions to grant leave to amend. View "Wells v. Union Pacific Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action lawsuit against Uber for providing unlicensed transportation services that appropriated passengers and income from licensed taxicab drivers. Plaintiffs alleged Uber failed to comply with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) licensing requirements for charter-party carriers. Uber argued the court lacked jurisdiction under Public Utilities Code section 1759 due to ongoing rulemaking by the CPUC. The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the amended complaint, stating that the CPUC has authority to adopt regulatory policies concerning transportation companies and has exercised that authority. A finding of liability against Uber in this action would hinder or interfere with the CPUC’s exercise of its regulatory authority by requiring the trial court to make factual findings regarding whether Uber falls within the charter-party carrier definition and, if so, which regulations would apply to its operations. View "Goncharov v. Uber Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Armstrong, a BNSF train conductor, was not wearing the proper uniform for the third time in two weeks. Armstrong’s supervisor, Motley, noticed and called him into the “Glasshouse” office. Nelson left the Glasshouse as Armstrong arrived. Armstrong claims that Motley began yelling and that he tried to leave because he felt threatened; Motley pushed the door shut, striking Armstrong’s knee and foot. This is not seen on a video recording. Nelson testified that, outside the Glasshouse, he could hear Armstrong curse at Motley. The video showed Motley standing away from the door as Armstrong exited. Motley, who claims he did not close the door on Armstrong, called his supervisor, Johanson. After speaking to Armstrong, Johanson took Armstrong to an on-site clinic, where he was provided a soft walking shoe. Human Resources took statements and secured the video. BNSF issued a notice of investigation for insubordination, dishonesty, and misrepresentation. A hearing officer concluded that Armstrong had lied. BNSF terminated Armstrong’s employment. Armstrong sued, alleging that BNSF dismissed him for reporting a work‐related injury, (Federal Rail Safety Act, 49 U.S.C. 20109(a)(4)). The Seventh Circuit affirmed a jury verdict for BNSF, upholding a jury instruction that “Defendant cannot be held liable under the FRSA if you conclude that Defendant terminated Plainiff’s employment based on its honestly held belief that Plaintiff did not engage in protected activity under the FRSA in good faith.” While a FRSA plaintiff need not show that retaliation was the sole motivating factor in the adverse decision, the statute requires a showing that retaliation was a motivating factor. View "Armstrong v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit dismissed petitioners' challenge to the FMCSA's final rule entitled "Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration." Petitioners are the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and an OOIDA member. Petitioners alleged that the new administrative rule means that OOIDA members were being subjected to more onerous sleep apnea tests, which in turn has led to delays, or worse, denials of medical certification to drive commercial motor vehicles. The court held that petitioners have not provided any evidence to support the second element of standing: causation. The court found that the two affidavits submitted by petitioners to prove that they have standing either contained generalized allegations or were not fairly traceable to the final rule. View "Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assoc. v. U.S. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Tropp’s patents are directed to the use of dual-access locks in airline luggage inspection. Tropp’s system permits the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to unlock, inspect, and relock checked baggage. Sentry administers a similar system and has license agreements with lock and luggage manufacturers. Under an Agreement with TSA, Sentry provides TSA with passkeys for distribution to field locations. TSA takes no responsibility for damage to baggage secured with Sentry locks but will make good faith efforts to distribute and use the passkeys. TSA does not endorse any particular system. Following earlier appeals, the district court granted summary judgment, finding that Sentry and its licensees did not infringe Tropp’s patents under 35 U.S.C. 271(a). The Federal Circuit vacated. A reasonable jury could conclude that TSA’s performance of the final two claim steps is attributable to Sentry such that Sentry is liable for direct infringement. Although the partnership-like relationship between Sentry and TSA is unique, the court should have considered evidence that TSA, hoping to obtain access to certain benefits, can only do so if it performs certain steps identified by Sentry, under terms prescribed by Sentry. Sentry can stop or limit TSA’s ability to practice the final two steps by terminating the Agreement, discontinuing its practice of replacing passkeys that are damaged or lost or changing the design of future locks such that the TSA keys no longer work. View "Travel Sentry, Inc. v. Tropp" on Justia Law