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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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