Posted On: August 16, 2007 by Mark R. McKenna

State Lawsuits Against Railroads Have New Life Under New Homeland Security Legislation

As a lawyer who specializes in negligence suits against wrongdoers who cause serious inuries, I have always believed that federal or state laws that exempt certain industries from a duty to act reasonably for the safety of others were unfair, and dangerous. Thankfully, Congress and the Bush administration have decided to allow suits against a protected industry--the railroads--to go forward:

“Tucked inside the huge homeland security legislation signed into law by President Bush recently is a provision to ensure that the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 does not preclude state lawsuits against railroads by injured persons in general and the residents of a small city in North Dakota in particular. The provision, entitled ‘Railroad Pre-emption Clarification,’ is in the new law implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, but its impetus can be traced to Jan. 18, 2002.”

Reported by Marcia Coyle in the National Law Journal, Law.com, 8/13/07

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