Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
Grade v. BNSF Railway Co.
Plaintiff brought suit against BNSF, alleging common law negligence and seeking compensation for injuries he suffered when the automobile he was driving hit a BNSF railcar that was stopped at a railroad crossing. The district court granted summary judgment to BNSF, dismissing all of plaintiff's claims. Because the court agreed with the Tenth Circuit that the warning regulations did not create a federal standard of care under which the railroad was expected to act, the 2007 Amendments to the Federal Railway Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. 20106, had no effect on the prior case law relating to those regulations. As such, Norfolk Southern Railway v. Shanklin was not overruled by the 2007 Amendment and was controlling. Therefore, plaintiff's warning claims were preempted because the B Street Crossing warning system was paid for in party by federal funds. Further, the local-condition savings clause under the FRSA was not applicable. The court also held that the district court was correct in determining that plaintiff's claim of negligence based on failure to equip the railcar with reflective devices was preempted; the district court appropriately granted summary judgment based on lack of causation and the court need not reach the issue of whether plaintiff's claim was preempted; and the district court properly granted summary judgment as to plaintiff's claim that BNSF was negligent in failing to keep its rolling stock under reasonable and proper control and supervision. View "Grade v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law
Palmer, et al. v. Illinois Farmers Ins. Co.; Kluessendorf, et al. v. Progressive Preferred Ins. Co.; Hara, et al. v. USAA Casualty Ins. Co.; Johnson, et al. v. American Family Mutual Ins.
Insureds, Minnesota residents, filed class action complaints against their automobile insurers alleging violations of a Minnesota statute, Minn. Stat. 65B.285, requiring insurers to provide a discount for cars which have antitheft devices and breach of contract claims based on the failure to apply the statutory discount. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the insureds' amended complaints, rejecting their attempts here, particularly in the absence of any indication that Minnesota's administrative remedies were inadequate, to circumvent Minnesota's administrative remedies in order to create a private right of action. View "Palmer, et al. v. Illinois Farmers Ins. Co.; Kluessendorf, et al. v. Progressive Preferred Ins. Co.; Hara, et al. v. USAA Casualty Ins. Co.; Johnson, et al. v. American Family Mutual Ins." on Justia Law
Cook, et al. v. ACS State & Local Solutions, et al.
Plaintiffs brought a class action suit against a variety of defendants, alleging that each improperly obtained personal driver information from the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) in violation of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725. The district court found that neither of plaintiffs' theories stated a valid claim under the DPPA and granted defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. The court held that plaintiffs could not establish a violation of the DPPA if all defendants have done was obtain driver information in bulk for potential use under a permissible purpose. The court also held that plaintiffs could not establish a DPPA violation by alleging that defendants obtained personal information with the sole purpose of selling it to third parties who have permissible section 2721(b) uses for the information. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "Cook, et al. v. ACS State & Local Solutions, et al." on Justia Law
Midwest Railcar Repair, Inc. v. South Dakota Dept. of Revenue
Midwest sued the Department, seeking a declaration that South Dakota had a taxation scheme that violated a provision of the federal Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act (4-R Act), 49 U.S.C. 11501(b)(4). The complaint alleged in part that the 4-R Act's bar on discriminatory taxes against rail carriers extended to Midwest. The district court denied Midwest's motion for summary judgment and granted the Department's, concluding that court precedent did not support extending the protections of the 4-R Act to Midwest. The court held that, in light of Midwest's bare assertions that South Dakota's tax had the effect of discriminating against rail carriers, the district court did not err in ruling as it did. Any ruling to the contrary would have required the district court to rely upon speculation with respect to whether South Dakota's taxes on railcar repair services performed by a privately owned, third-party service provider and any tangible personal property used therein impermissibly resulted in discriminatory treatment of a rail carrier. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed. View "Midwest Railcar Repair, Inc. v. South Dakota Dept. of Revenue" on Justia Law
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assoc., et al. v. Supervalu, Inc.
Appellants sued appellee under 49 U.S.C. 14103(a) for the reimbursement of fees associated with the loading and unloading of its trucks at appellee's facilities. Appellants subsequently appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment. The court concluded that the district court properly read section 14103(a) to preclude relief for unreimbursed "lumping" absent a plaintiff-trucker's affirmative showing that he or she was not reimbursed by either the shipper or the receiver. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's order of summary judgment where appellants failed to identify any of its trucks whom a shipper had not already reimbursed. View "Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assoc., et al. v. Supervalu, Inc." on Justia Law
Railroad Salvage & Restoration, et al. v. Surface Transportation Board, et al.
Petitioners filed a joint petition for review of an order of the Surface Transportation Board (Board), which found, among other things, that a railroad company's practice of charging petitioners interest on certain unpaid charges at a rate of 1-2% per month was not an unreasonable practice under 49 U.S.C. 10702(2). The Board filed a motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that 28 U.S.C. 1336(b) vested a federal district court with jurisdiction to review the Board's determination of the interest-rate issue to the extent one of the petitioners (Railroad Salvage) raised it. The court agreed and dismissed the petition to the extent that it asked the court to review the Board's resolution of the interest-rate issue with respect to Railroad Salvage. The court held that, although its jurisdiction to review the Board's determination of the interest-rate issue as to the other petitioner (Wiedeman) was not in dispute, its resolution of the issue could moot the referring district court's resolution of the issue with respect to Railroad Salvage. To ensure that the district court was allowed a meaningful review of the issue, the court held the petition in abeyance to the extent Wiedeman sought review of the Board's determination of the interest-rate issue. View "Railroad Salvage & Restoration, et al. v. Surface Transportation Board, et al." on Justia Law
McClendon, et al v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainment ("BLET") filed a claim with the Union Pacific Railroad Company ("UP") seeking reinstatement and backpay for a member of the BLET when UP terminated him while he was working under a governing collective-bargaining agreement between the UP and the United Transportation Union ("UTU"). At issue was whether the National Railroad Adjustment Board ("NRAB") properly dismissed the claim. The court affirmed the dismissal and held that the NRAB did not ignore the Article C-17 contract provision in the agreement while interpreting the contract; that the NRAB's interpretation of Article C-17 did not violate 45 U.S.C. 153 First (j); the NRAB acted well within its power by invoking a "claim-processsing" rule; the NRAB was well within its authority in construing the agreement as enunciating the "usual manner" in this workplace; once the NRAB determined that the agreement was controlling, the other agreements and bargaining history became largely irrelevant; and the district court did not abuse its discretion where discovery would not have justified setting aside the NRAB's interpretation of the agreement, nor would it have uncovered a due process violation by the NRAB.