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COA affirms ruling in suit brought after fatal train accident

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The trial court did not err in concluding that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether federal preemption applies with respect to the adequacy of the traffic warning devices installed at a railroad crossing where a fatal accident occurred in 2009, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.

The court upheld Vigo Superior Judge David Bolk’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the train crash victims in Indiana Rail Road Company v. John Blaine Davidson, Admin. of the Estate of Carolyn Davidson, Deceased, and Tonya Kincaid, as Mother and Next Friend of Cierra Kincaid, a Minor, 84A01-1202-CT-81.

Indiana Rail Road Co. appealed the trial court’s finding that an issue of material fact existed as to whether federal preemption applied.

The predecessor to Indiana Rail Road in 1978 received federal grant money to install crossbuck signs at the crossing. In 2009, prior to the crash, those crossbucks were removed and a new crossing sign was installed in a project that used state, but no federal money. The new crossbucks were placed at a different location.
 
“In its application requesting state funds, the Indiana Rail Road neither included nor incorporated the federal specifications from the 1978 project. Because state funds were requested and granted, the Indiana Rail Road became responsible for assessing the crossing’s safety needs,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the court. “There is no evidence indicating that the federal government approved the newly located crossbucks.”

“We hold that the trial court properly denied the Indiana Rail Road’s motion for partial summary judgment, concluding that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether federal preemption precludes Appellees’ claim with respect to the adequacy of traffic warning devices,” Riley wrote.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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