Judge clears way for injured rail worker's suit against NOPB to proceed

By Takesha Thomas | Aug 15, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently cleared the way for a jury to hear a civil case filed by a switchman for the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad who was injured while moving railcars.

Brian O'Malley filed a negligence suit against the Public Belt Railroad Commission for the city of New Orleans (NOPB) claiming he was injured in March 2017 after being struck by a locomotive while moving railcars. He later filed a motion for summary judgment in the case.

Attorneys for O'Malley argued that under the Federal Railroad Safety Act, NOPB, "violated regulations under the Federal Railroad Safety Act." O'Mally also argued that NOPB violated its own internal safety rules thereby causing negligence. 

In her Aug. 9 ruling regarding the motion, U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo said, "Summary judgment is granted to the extent that if a jury finds that defendant violated any of its internal rules enacted ... to protect shoving maneuvers and that violation contributed to plaintiff’s injuries, defendant is negligent per se and plaintiff’s recovery will not be reduced by comparative fault. Summary judgment is denied in all

other respects." 

According to the suit, crew members failed to "sound their train’s horn or bell at any point before moving or while they moved the train and that crew members operated on different radio frequencies." 

O'Malley's attorneys argued that "under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, a railroad has a non-delegable duty to provide (its) employees with a reasonably safe place to work. A railroad may become liable by breaching its general duty of care or by breaching a statutory duty."

NOPB argued that O'Malley in fact, "was the sole cause of his injury," according to court documents. NOPD argued that O'Malley had positioned himself in a manner that he was not visible to other employees at the time of the accident. 

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