Legal Update – February 24, 2022
On February 23, 2022, the Hon. Judge Sarah S. Vance of the U.S. District Court in New Orleans denied the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad’s effort to eliminate absolute liability claims brought by our client, Richard Cordes, who was injured while carrying out his duties as a railroad carman.
The Court’s opinion addressed the issue whether the railroad equipment that malfunctioned and caused Mr. Cordes’ injury was “in use” triggering the absolute liability provisions of the Federal Safety Appliance Act. The Court’s ruling in Mr. Cordes’ favor will preserve these absolute liability claims at trial.
Finally, the Court’s opinion in Cordes was spotlighted by LAW360 this week. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument on March 28, 2022 to determine the same “in use” issue on appeal from the U.S. Seventh Circuit in Ledure v. Union Pacific Railroad Company. Judge Vance’s Ruling in Cordes will likely be the last significant legal treatment of this very important issue before the Supreme Court issues its Ruling later this Spring.