Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
State of Indiana v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.
Indiana’s blocked-crossing statute bars railroads from blocking railroad-highway grade crossings for more than 10 minutes, except in circumstances outside the railroads’ control. Ind. Code 8-6-7.5-1. Violations are Class C infractions and carry a minimum $200 fine. In one year, Norfolk Southern collected 23 blocked-crossing citations for violations near its Allen County trainyard. Norfolk argued that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), 49 U.S.C. 10101, and the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) expressly preempt Indiana’s statute. The trial court found that train-switching maneuvers, track congestion, and mechanical defects can all cause traffic blockages lasting more than 10 minutes, and that, to shorten blockages, Norfolk would have to run trains faster, run shorter trains, or “cut” trains into segments—an onerous process that requires more than 10 minutes of reassembly and brake tests. The court granted Norfolk summary judgment on all 23 citations. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Indiana Supreme Court reinstated the trial court decision. Indiana’s blocked-crossing statute is a remedy that directly regulates rail operations, so the ICCTA categorically preempts it. View "State of Indiana v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co." on Justia Law