Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp.
- Case Date: 10/7/2011
- Project Name: Civil Justice Reform
On February 29, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an 85-year-old precedent that protects railroad locomotive manufacturers from product liability suits. The Court ruled that Congress intended to “occupy the field” on the issue of locomotive safety, and that tort suits under state law against locomotive manufacturers are therefore preempted. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief urging affirmance. WLF noted that the decision does not leave injured railroad workers without recourse: the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA) permits them to seek compensation by suing their employers. The Court agreed with WLF that stare decisis required that the Court abide by its 1926 Napier decision (which held that tort suits of this sort were preempted) in light of substantial evidence that Congress repeatedly passed up opportunities to overturn Napier. Any change in the law should be initiated by Congress, the Court held.
More Information and Downloads:
10/7/2011: Download the Brief
Litigation Update: Court Bars Tort Actions Against Railroad Locomotive Manufacturers