Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
Progressive Southeastern Insurance Co. v. Brown
In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court held that the MCS-90 endorsement, which provides that if a motor vehicle is involved in an accident the insurer may be required to pay any final judgment against the insured arising out of the accident, does not apply to an accident that occurred during an intrastate trip transporting non-hazardous property.One way motor carries can comply with the financial requirements of the federal Motor Carrier Act of 1980 is by adding an MCS-90 endorsement to their insurance policy. The insurer in this case brought an action seeking a declaration that the MCS-90 endorsement creating a suretyship whereby the insurer agreed to pay a final judgment against the insured in certain negligence cases did not apply. The trial court found that the MCS-90 endorsement applied, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because the insured driver was neither engaged in interests commerce at the time of the action nor transporting hazardous property, the MCS-90 endorsement did not apply; and (2) the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify the driver. View "Progressive Southeastern Insurance Co. v. Brown" on Justia Law
Wilkes v. Celadon Group, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment for a shipper and its agent and against a commercial truck driver who sustained injuries when his cargo fell on him, holding that this Court expressly adopts the Fourth Circuit's "Savage rule."At issue was whether Defendant was negligent in packing, loading, and failing to secure the trailer's cargo. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant at issue on appeal. The Supreme Court adopted the Savage rule, which holds that carriers have the primary duty for loading and securing cargo, and if the shipper assumes a legal duty of safe loading it becomes liable for injuries resulting from any latent defect. The Court then affirmed, holding (1) given both the rule's sound policy and its consistency with Indiana law, this Court formally adopts the Savage rule; and (2) Defendant was not liable for Plaintiff's injuries under the circumstances of this case. View "Wilkes v. Celadon Group, Inc." on Justia Law
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