Articles Posted in Alaska Supreme Court

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One night in February 2014 Carlile Transportation Systems, Inc. driver Bart Neal was driving a tractor-trailer southbound on the Dalton Highway. Neal could not steer properly at speeds above 35 miles per hour and decided to stop to put chains on his tires, partially blocking both traffic lanes, and, by his account, activated his flashers. Neal did not deploy reflective triangles. Eggor Enterprises, Inc. driver Joe Seurer was hauling a load of fuel northbound. By his account, Seurer saw lights in the distance but could not determine what they were. Seurer slowed his tractor-trailer from 50 to 35 miles per hour. About three-quarters of a mile from Neal, Seurer again saw lights and thought they might be from a pipeline maintenance truck stopped off the side of the road. He did not see reflective triangles or flashers. The road had an S-curve between Seurer and Neal. Until Seurer rounded the final curve, he did not realize Neal’s rig was blocking the road. Seurer applied his brakes about 300 feet from Neal, avoiding a serious collision but causing Seurer’s trailer to fall onto the side of the highway. The trailer’s fuel load spilled alongside the road. Eggor Enterprises’s insurer, HDI-Gerling American Insurance Company (HDI), paid over $3.5 million in cleanup costs to remediate the spill. HDI-Gerling, as subrogee of its trucking company client, sued Carlile for negligence. After a trial the jury determined that Carlile company’s driver was not negligent and returned a defense verdict. The insurance company appealed some of the superior court’s trial rulings. Seeing no reversible error, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s entry of final judgment. View "HDI-Gerling America Insurance Company v. Carlile Transportation Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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In February 2012, Alaska Airlines terminated Helen Lingley, a longtime employee, for violating company rules and polices after she allegedly took earbuds from a left-on-board box, made contradictory statements during the ensuing investigation, and made discourteous comments about her coworkers. The terms and conditions of Lingley’s employment were governed by a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by Lingley’s union,the International Association of Machinists and AerospaceWorkers, pursuant to the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA). This agreement broadly incorporated Alaska Airlines’ rules and policies and gave the company the right to change those rules and policies at any time. Lingley sued Alaska Airlines for wrongful termination without first attempting to arbitrate her claims under the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement subject to the RLA. The superior court denied the Lingley leave to amend her complaint, concluding that her claims and proposed claims were precluded by failure to exhaust contractual remedies and were preempted by the RLA. The Supreme Court found the collective bargaining agreement did not clearly and unmistakably waive the Lingley's right to litigate her claims, a prerequisite to finding her claims precluded. "And a number of her proposed claims may have an independent state law basis that does not depend on an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement; such claims would not be preempted by the Railway Labor Act." Accordingly the Court reversed the superior court order denying leave to amend. View "Lingley v. Alaska Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law