Railroad workers should be aware of a May ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding pursuing damages against corporations. The 8-1 ruling, which specifically applied to two lawsuits plaintiffs had filed against a Texas railroad company in the more amenable Montana court system, placed limits on where corporations can be properly sued.
In 2011, a resident of North Dakota, a truck driver, had sued the railroad company in Montana state court claiming that he had been injured while employed by the railroad company. The plaintiff alleged that he had injured his knee when he slipped and fell.
In 2014, another lawsuit was filed against the company by a resident of South Dakota. The plaintiff alleged that her late husband had incurred a deadly kidney cancer as a result of being exposed to carcinogenic chemicals while an employee of the railroad company.
Although neither worker had been injured in Montana, the Montana Supreme Court issued a May 2016 ruling that asserted because the company conducted business in Montana, its state courts possessed general jurisdiction. However, the railroad company, which has 33 lawsuits pending in Montana, disputed this claim, stating that in 2011 and 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court established constitutional limits on where businesses can be sued for liability when their operations or products cause injuries. The court agreed and ruled that state courts had no authority to consider claims against companies that are not based in the state or if the state was not where the alleged injuries occurred.
A personal injury attorney may work to obtain financial compensation for clients who have incurred railroad worker injuries. The attorney may consider the factors that contributed to the injury, such as violations of federal regulations, and may file lawsuits against the responsible parties in a court having jurisdiction over the matter.