Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Trusts & Estates
Noice v. BNSF Ry. Co.
Lenard E. Noice worked as a conductor for Petitioner BNSF Railway Company (BNSF). He fell from a BNSF train that was moving at speed and perished. Respondent, Lenard Noice II, acting as personal representative for Noice (the Estate), filed a wrongful death action against BNSF under the Federal Employee’s Liability Act (FELA), asserting, among other claims, that BNSF negligently permitted the train from which Noice fell to operate at an excessive speed. The undisputed facts established that the train from which Noice fell never exceeded the speed limit for the class of track upon which it was operating. BNSF moved for summary judgment arguing that the Estate’s FELA excessive-speed claim was precluded by the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA). The district court accepted this argument and dismissed the Estate’s FELA claim. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that FRSA did not preclude a FELA excessive-speed claim. Because FRSA contained no provision expressly precluding the Estate’s FELA excessive-speed claim and because permitting the Estate’s FELA claim to proceed furthered the purposes of both statutes, the New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals. View "Noice v. BNSF Ry. Co." on Justia Law
Estate of Bloodworth v. Illinois Central Railroad Company
This appeal stems from a civil suit brought by the estates and wrongful-death beneficiaries of Christopher Allan Bloodworth, Steven Earl Tallant Jr., Marcus Richardson, and A.W. Hilson, four men killed at a railroad crossing when a freight train collided with the truck in which they were traveling. The beneficiaries of Bloodworth, Tallant, Richardson, and Hilson filed their complaint(s) against Illinois Central Railroad Company and several of its employees, including the track crew, as well as other employees of Illinois Central’s track department. Defendants filed two motions for summary judgment; the circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants with respect to Plaintiffs’ claims alleging negligent operation of the train. The circuit court also granted partial summary judgment in favor of Defendants on three of four contested issues regarding the engineering and maintenance of the railroad crossing, leaving one surviving claim. The circuit court then granted five of Defendants’ motions in limine to exclude Plaintiffs’ evidence. Finding that, without the excluded evidence, Plaintiffs could not support the remaining claim, the circuit court granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment in their entirety and issued a judgment and certificate pursuant to Rule 54(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs appealed the trial court's decisions to the Supreme Court, and Defendants cross-appealed as to certain trial court rulings. Because the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants on each claim by Plaintiffs, the Court dismissed Defendants’ cross-appeal as moot. View "Estate of Bloodworth v. Illinois Central Railroad Company" on Justia Law
Olson v. Estate of Rustad
In the early morning hours of April 11, 2008, Jeremy Rustad and Heidi Hanna were killed in a plane crash in McLean County. Rustad was piloting his Cessna aircraft and Hanna was a passenger when the plane crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable causes of the accident were due to pilot error and pilot impairment due to alcohol. The estate published a notice to creditors of Rustad for three successive weeks beginning May 22, 2008, informing them they had three months to file claims. On September 24, 2008, Olson, as "co-personal representative of the estate of Heidi Hanna, deceased, caretaker of [B.H.], a minor, and temporary guardian of [B.H.], a minor," filed a claim against the estate asserting the estate was indebted to Hanna's estate and to Hanna's children. The estate "disallowed" Olson's claim. In early 2009, Olson filed this wrongful death and survival action against the estate. The estate moved for summary judgment dismissing the action. The estate argued Olson's claims were barred because she did not serve the personal representative in that capacity and the failure to present her claims in the probate action made them res judicata. The estate also argued Olson could not show Hanna was injured before Rustad died, and therefore, both the wrongful death and survivor claims were barred under the nonclaim provisions of the Probate Code. The district court rejected the estate's arguments that service of process was insufficient and that the action was barred by res judicata. The court concluded Olson presented no evidence to show Hanna died before Rustad, and dismissed the wrongful death and survival actions because they were barred by the nonclaim provisions of the Probate Code. The district court further noted Rustad had an aircraft insurance policy and the nonclaim provisions did not prevent Olson from recovering to the extent of insurance coverage available for the accident. The court ruled the language in the insurance policy unambiguously limited coverage under the circumstances to $103,000, and a judgment was entered in favor of Olson for $103,000. The Estate appealed; the Supreme Court, after review of the trial court record, affirmed. View "Olson v. Estate of Rustad" on Justia Law