Victory in Congress on Preemption in Railroad Negligence Cases

Americans scored an important victory today in the ongoing fight against regulatory preemption of state tort law. This afternoon, Congress passed and sent to the President legislation implementing the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission.

Included in this legislation is railroad anti-preemption language – hard won by our Public Affairs department and members of AAJ’s Railroad Section – that would protect victims of railroad negligence. The new language clarifies the scope of preemption under the Federal Rail Security Act. This vital piece of legislation will guarantee access to justice for thousands of Americans injured by railroad operators’ negligence. In the past, railroad operators relied on outdated equipment which often failed, and then expected full immunity from accountability, even if they admitted to being at fault. This legislation will guarantee a level playing field for all Americans in our courts. It will allow the hundreds of Minot residents poisoned by a chlorine shipment’s derailment five years ago to finally pursue justice for the harm inflicted while they slept. It also lays the groundwork for future fights on preemption on a broad range of issues. Business and the Administration, frustrated in their attempts to limit access to the courts through legislation, will continue to pursue a strategy of using unelected bureaucrats in federal agencies to limit access to justice for hardworking Americans. If you or a member of your family has been involved in a railroad accident, and were seriously injured or killed, then contact us now.

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