Supreme Court now deciding arguments that may determine future slip and fall cases in rail yards

Justices should have a decision by the end of the court session
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 3:37 PM MST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - On Monday, justices heard arguments in the case of LeDure versus Union Pacific Railroad Company.

The case centers around the interpretation of when exactly a locomotive is “in use,” and whether that includes when it’s not moving.

In his claim, Bradley LeDure, a conductor, sued Union Pacific after he says he slipped and fell on an oil patch on a walkway while on the job in Salem, Illinois in 2016.

Lawrence Mann is a lawyer on the case. He represents railroad workers.

“The position of the worker is that a locomotive is in use,” said Mann. “That’s the words of the statute until such time the locomotive is moved to a controlled environment.”

Mann says an example of a controlled environment would be a repair shop.

In his initial lawsuit, LeDure alleged negligence by Union Pacific under the Federal Employers Liability Act and also the Locomotive Inspection Act.

Both, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit previously ruled in Union Pacific’s favor.

It was on the basis, Union Pacific couldn’t have known about the slick spot… and because the locomotive wasn’t in use at the time of LeDure’s fall.

“The position of Union Pacific’s lawyer is that there must be imminent movement,” said Mann. “It has to be ready to be moved or obviously actually moving.”

LeDure petitioned the high court saying it shouldn’t matter if the locomotive was moving or stationary.

In a statement, Union Pacific says it “believes that a commonsense interpretation of the Locomotive Inspection Act does not mean a locomotive is “in use” when it is parked on a backtrack, awaiting inspection.”

The Supreme Court goes out of session in June. Justices should have a decision by that time.

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