Railroads seek summary judgment, show cause hearings slated for Friday

By David Yates | May 27, 2009


Later this week, 172nd District Judge Donald Floyd has slated a plethora of show cause hearings in hopes of trimming the court's docket.

Among the slated hearings are two railway suits which the Record has reported on over the last two years, Eldwin Garrett vs. BNSF Railway and Michael Richardson vs. Union Pacific Railroad.

An order to show cause mandates that an individual or corporation make a court appearance to explain why the court should not take a proposed action.

In these cases, the railroads seek enforcement of summary judgment motions, which maintain the plaintiffs are not entitled to sue under the Federal Employers Liability Act.

In June 2007, the Record reported on a FELA suit filed by BNSF Railway Co. employee Eldwin Garrett, who injured himself while working for the railroad.

In March, BNSF filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the suit should not have been filed under FELA.

On Friday, May 29, the parties in the suit will have to show causation for the suit's dismissal or continuance.

Garrett filed his personal injury lawsuit in Jefferson County District Court on May 31, 2007 (case No. E179-407).

According to the plaintiff's petition, on Nov. 11, 2006, Garret was injured while in the process of installing an end-of-train device on a train in Dayton.

The suit says the incident caused Garrett to suffer "physical and mental pain…and, in all reasonable probability, will continue to suffer in this manner for a long time into the future. The injuries have had a serious effect on plaintiff's health and well being."

Friendswood attorney Sara L. Youngdahl of the Youngdahl Law Firm is representing Garrett.

BNSF is represented in part by attorney Douglas Poole.

In the second suit, Michael Richardson sued Union Pacific Railroad Co., claiming that during his employment the railroad company failed to provide him with a safe place to work and exposed him to repetitive trauma injuries.

Richardson's suit was filed in the Jefferson County District Court on Jan. 22, 2008 (case No. E181-048).

According to the plaintiff's petition, Richardson performed a variety of duties for UP in the company's transportation department and "while acting in the course and scope of said employment, suffered a repetitive trauma injury."

The suit goes on to allege that the area where Richardson suffered his injury was not in compliance with federal track regulations concerning ballast and other track components.

"Moreover, the equipment he was provided violated the Safety Appliance Act, the Boiler/Locomotive Inspection Act and accompanying federal regulations," the suit said.

The suit stated that UP's regulatory violations amount to negligence as a matter of law and caused the injuries and damages.

Bristol Baxley of the Rome, Arata & Baxley law firm is representing Richardson.

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