Jump To Navigation

Case Law

Wheeler v. Illinois Central Railroad Co.

Date Decided: November 9th, 2010
Originally Filed in: Mississippi (federal)
Decided by: Mississippi Southern District Court (Federal)
Court: S.D.Miss.
Judge: Starrett
Citation: 2010 WL 4867410 (S.D.Miss.)


Plaintiff brought this claim against his employer, Illinois Central Railroad Company ("ICRR"), under the Federal Employers' Liability Act ("FELA"), 45 U.S.C. § 51 et seq.  Plaintiff alleged he was injured while operation a main line railroad switch; a switch, he claims, that was defective and negligently maintained and inspected under the requirements set forth in 49 C.F.R. § 213.235.  Plaintiff asserts he was injured when the switch "bound up" (an incident that can occur when the switch gets stuck).   Plaintiff's case rests on thin evidence.  Plaintiff provides the following evidence: (1) that he spoke of the incident (the switch bounding up) to a select few co-workers, (2) plaintiff's expert found a "groove"  (more than two years after the alleged accident) in the in the wooden switch tie along the path that the switch clip or cuff would follow when the switch is being thrown, and lastly, and (3) ICRR's inspection records were no entirely complete regarding the inspection of the switch.  No witness or employee has had any difficulty with the switch.  ICRR filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that Plaintiff failed to provide enough evidence of negligence and causation.  


Is this small amount of evidence, on the part of the plaintiff, enough to survive a motion for summary judgment under the FELA?  


Yes, the court denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment.  First, the court held that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the switch was properly inspected.  Although the court acknowledged that the switch was actually inspected on a monthly basis (which is more often than federal regulations require), the inspection records contained some slight omissions that created doubt as to whether the switch in question was properly "thrown" as required by the inspection.  The court found that ICRR was not compliant with 49 C.F.R. § 213.235, which prescribes switch inspection requirements.  The court concluded that the violation could potentially amount to negligence per se.  


A railroad's failure to comply with 49 C.F.R. § 213.235's requirement to provide complete inspection records may serve as a basis for a plaintiff to assert negligence per se in a FELA case.  



Overall issues discussed or touched upon by this case:
Free Case Evaluation Form Talk to a Lawyer Now
Please complete the math to prove you are not a robot:
in-depth overview FELA click here


In re Ricky Joe Jones, Cheryl Ann Jones, Debtors

Date Decided: Jan 25th, 2011
Decided By: U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit(Bankruptcy) (Federal) read more

Leandrew Lewis v. CSX Transportation, Inc.

Date Decided: Mar 10th, 2011
Decided By: Ohio Southern District Court (Federal) read more

Subscribe to Case Law Feed


Train Carrying Crude Oil Derails Causing Explosion & Fire in Alabama Wetlands

 ALICEVILLE, AL – A train carrying tanker cars full of crude oil derailed on November 8 causing an explosion and fire in a wetlands area just outside Aliceville, AL. The city of Aliceville is... read more

Railroad Worker Injured in Midvale, Utah TRAX Train Crash

 MIDVALE, UT – A TRAX commuter train crashed into an empty passenger car that was sitting on the tracks on November 6, derailing the train and injuring two passengers and a railroad employee in... read more

CSX Train Derails in Millcreek Township, PA

 MILLCREEK TOWNSHIP, PA – Four CSX rail cars full of construction debris derailed in Millcreek Township, PA on November 1, causing traffic delays at several intersections. Millcreek Township is... read more

Three CSX Railroad Workers One Motorist Injured at Bradner, OH Rail Crossing

 BRADNER, OH – Three CSX railroad employees were injured at a rail crossing just south of Bradner, OH on October 28, when a motorist drove around construction barriers and hit a utility pole and... read more

Subscribe RSS
Attorneys Refer your cases here

Toll-Free: 800-773-6770
Local: 713-668-9999
Fax: 713-668-1980
1811 Bering Drive, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77057

Of Counsel Offices

David Lockard
15 W Highland Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19118

Fred Bremseth
Minnesota Office
601 Carlson Parkway
Suite 995
Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305

Montana Office
100 North 27th Street
Suite 220
Billings, Montana 59101