United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
L. HAYES, MAG. JUDGE
G. JAMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Regarding Speed [Doc. No. 191] filed by Union Pacific
Railroad Co. (“Union Pacific”). Defendants Daniel
Shackleford (“Shackleford”), College City
Leasing, LLC (“College City”), Taylor Truck
Lines, Inc. (“Taylor Truck”), Taylor Logistics,
Inc. (“Taylor Logistics”), and Taylor
Consolidated, Inc. (collectively, “the Taylor
Entities”) oppose the motion. [Doc. No. 235]. Union
Pacific filed a reply. [Doc. No. 249].
following reasons, the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
October 5, 2014, Shackleford was operating a 2013 Kenworth
tractor with trailer and dolly (hereinafter
“tractor-trailer”) loaded with a Freuhoff Terex
RT-780 crane. He was en route to deliver the crane to a
construction company in Mississippi. The tractor-trailer
driven by Shackleford was owned by College City, but leased
to Taylor Truck. Taylor Logistics was the shipment
approximately 1:00 p.m., Shackleford was driving the
tractor-trailer south on U.S. Highway 165 in Mer Rouge,
Louisiana. At the intersection of 165 and U.S. Highway
425/La. Highway 2, Shackleford stopped at the stop sign and
then turned left onto U.S. Highway 425/La. Highway 2, also
known as Davenport Avenue. He then proceeded to the Highway
2/Davenport Avenue highway/railway grade crossing (“the
Crossing”) over a Union Pacific main line railroad
track (identified as DOT crossing number 441-531N at railroad
milepost 473.60). The elevated Crossing has pavement
markings, crossbuck signs, flashing lights, gates, and bells.
Shackleford attempted to drive over the Crossing, the trailer
became lodged, straddling the tracks. He exited the tractor
to attempt to extricate the trailer, but did not notify law
enforcement or Union Pacific.
are federal speed regulations in effect with regard to the
Crossing, the type of track, and the type of train operated
by Union Pacific. The Crossing is located at milepost 473.6,
which is part of the McGehee Subdivision. The Union Pacific
North Little Rock Timetable Number 5 was in effect at that
time and governed the McGehee Subdivision. The track was
graded Class 4. According to federal regulations, the maximum
authorized speed for freight trains was sixty miles per hour,
the same speed limit under Union Pacific's Timetable No.
5. However, Union Pacific also had a Company System General
Order Number 2, which provided that the speed for key trains
was fifty miles per hour.
Shackleford could extricate the tractor-trailer, a Union
Pacific train traveling north on the track began to approach
the Crossing. Union Pacific engineer, Russell Rowe, was
operating the lead locomotive, and Union Pacific conductor,
James Kovalyshyn, was in the cab as well. The flashing
lights, bell, and crossing gate were activated. When he saw
the tractor-trailer, Rowe recalled that the train was
traveling between forty-eight and fifty miles per hour.
Kovalyshyn also testified that the train was traveling less
than fifty miles per hour. When they realized that the
tractor-trailer was stopped, crew members applied the
emergency brakes in an effort to avoid the collision. The
crew members were unsuccessful, and the train collided with
the trailer and attached crane. As a result of the accident,
approximately 17 or 18 railroad cars and 2 locomotives left
the railroad tracks, cargo spilled, and a tank car leaked
Argon onto surrounding property, including land owned by R
& L Properties of Oak Grove, LLC
January 14, 2015, Union Pacific brought the instant suit
against the Taylor Entities seeking to recover the property
damage caused by the accident and derailment.
and R & L Builders Supply, Inc. (“Builders
Supply”) had filed a separate lawsuit against the
Taylor Entities, Union Pacific, and Union Pacific's
contractors, Prewett Enterprises, Inc., and Hulcher Services,
Inc., seeking to recover their damages. On November 4, 2015,
the Properties and Builders Supply lawsuit was consolidated
with the Union Pacific lawsuit.
they have not made a claim against Union Pacific, as one of
their defenses, the Taylor Entities contend that Union
Pacific was comparatively negligent by failing “to
follow applicable statutory, regulatory or legal
standards” and because the train was “traveling
at an excessive rate of speed.” [Doc. Nos. 8, 81, 115].
discovery was complete, Union Pacific filed the instant
motion, arguing that federal preemption bars any claims or
defenses that Union Pacific was negligent because of the
speed of the train . The motion is fully briefed [Doc. Nos.
235 & 249], and the Court is now prepared to rule.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may
move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or
defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which
summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary
judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party bears
the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for
its motion by identifying portions of the record which
highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact.
Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir.
1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A
party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must
support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of
materials in the record . . .). A fact is
“material” if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under
applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a
material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for
the nonmoving party. Id.
Pacific asserts that it is entitled to summary judgment on
any claims or defenses related to the speed of the train or
the timetable speed limit because such claims or ...