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 Summary Judgment [Doc. No.
192] filed by 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”).
Plaintiff Union Pacific Railroad Co. (“Union
Pacific”) opposes the motion. [Doc. No. 231]. The
Taylor Entities filed a reply. [Doc. No. 244].
following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
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 broker.
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.
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 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.
November 4, 2015, the two lawsuits were consolidated.
Pacific asserts as one of its claims that Shackleford was
negligent in failing to comply with La. Rev. Stat. §
32:174, by attempting to traverse the Crossing without first
notifying Union Pacific. After discovery was complete, the
Taylor Entities filed the instant motion, arguing that
federal preemption bars Union Pacific's claim based on
La. Rev. Stat. § 32:174. The motion is fully briefed
[Doc. Nos. 231 & 244], and the Court is now prepared to
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