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Bratton v. The Kansas City Southern Railway Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

January 28, 2015

RODDRICK BRATTON
v.
THE KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY

MEMORANDUM RULING

DONALD E. WALTER, District Judge.

Before the court are two motions for partial summary judgment, one filed by the plaintiff, Roddrick Bratton ("Bratton"), and one filed by the defendant, The Kansas City Southern Railway Company ("KCS"). See Record Documents 23 and 36. For the reasons set forth herein, Bratton's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, and KCS's motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

On July 30, 2013, a two-train collision and derailment occurred when a southbound KCS train crashed into a stopped KCS train. Bratton was the assigned locomotive engineer of the moving train and Christopher Biggs ("Biggs") was the assigned conductor. At the time of the collision, however, Biggs was operating the locomotive as engineer.[1] The moving train consisted of two locomotives and more than seventy rail cars.

The route of the train from Heavener, Oklahoma, to Shreveport, Louisiana, required that signals located near the track govern the movement of trains. The train traveled without incident until it reached an area near Vivian, Louisiana, where it encountered a yellow approach signal. Pursuant to KCS rules, a yellow signal requires that a train must "[p]roceed immediately reducing speed to 35 MPH, and be prepared to stop at next signal." Record Document 36, Ex H at 9.1.6. Rather than following this requirement, Briggs allowed the train to continue past the yellow signal at 43 miles per hour.

The next signal encountered by Briggs was a red, restricting signal. Pursuant to KCS rules, a red, restricting signal requires that a train "[p]roceed at restricted speed." Id., Ex. H at 9.1.8. "Restricted speed" is defined in the General Code of Operating Rules ("GCOR") number 6.27:

When required to move at restricted speed, movement must be made at a speed that allows stopping within half the range of vision short of:
• Train.
• Engine.
• Railroad car.
• Men or equipment fouling the track.
• Stop signal.
or
• Derail or switch lined ...

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