Despite a worker’s wrongful death from chemical exposure in violation of labor laws, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that state-law personal injury lawsuits can’t be brought by railroad maintenance workers against locomotive equipment manufacturers. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion that state-law personal injury lawsuits of this nature are preempted by the Locomotive Inspection Act, a federal safety law. 3 justices dissented, arguing that some of the plaintiffs’ claims to should be allowed to proceed.
The family of George Corson, a railroad worker allegedly exposed to asbestos while working with locomotive brake shoes and insulation, attempted to file a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawsuit against several defendants, though many were no longer a part of the case. The two remaining defendants were Railroad Friction Products Corp. and Viad Corp. Though the merits of their case were strong, the Supreme Court based their decision not on those merits, but on the issue of giving priority to federal law over state law.
Lawyers for the Corson family had argued that rail workers who suffered work-related injuries would be left without legal recourse to compensate them for those injuries in the event of an accident. At our New York City personal injury law firm, our wrongful death lawyers are experts at securing large personal injury settlements for people hurt in work-related accidents. Contact us if you’ve suffered an injury at work or if you’ve been exposed to harmful chemicals and have a viable toxic tort case.