The New Jersey Transit Corporation had been holding up the resolution of a FELA claim for two years by invoking the sovereign immunity defense. This is the defense whereby defendants state that they are immune from federal lawsuits. Connecticut residents should know, however, that the New Jersey legislature has passed a law limiting the use of that defense by NJ Transit.
Many New York City workers who live in New Jersey commute to their jobs through public transportation. However, they may not know that if a transportation worker gets hurt, it may be difficult for that person to file a lawsuit against his or her employer. This is because NJ Transit has claimed that it had sovereign immunity because it was a government entity and thus it cannot be sued under the 1908 Federal Employers Liability Act.
The Federal Employers' Liability Act allows rail employees who are in interstate commerce in New York and the rest of the United States to pursue damages from their employers for injuries they sustain while on the job. It overrides any existing state legislation and stipulates that the injured workers have to prove that the employer was negligent. It also requires that any financial compensation that is awarded is to be reduced in proportion to the worker's failure in adhering to safety policies in the workplace.
Railroad companies in New York, Connecticut and other states must ensure that employees enjoy a safe working environment. If a worker is hurt on the job, compensation may be warranted. One man in Missouri recently filed a lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad, stating that he was injured in part because of an unsafe working environment. He also claimed that he didn't have the tools needed to do the job.
On May 21, 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board held a meeting to determine the cause of a December 18, 2017, train crash. On that day, Amtrak train 501 derailed from a highway overpass near DuPont, Washington, killing three passengers and injuring 65 others (57 were train occupants, eight were in vehicles along the highway). Connecticut residents should know that a lack of training on the part of the train engineer was behind the wreck.
On May 10, fire erupted at the Alamo Junction Rail Park in Bexar County, Texas, in a facility designated for the cleaning of rail cars. Connecticut residents should know that a man was cleaning crude oil in a rail car when something caused a spark, leading to a flash fire and then an explosion.
Connecticut residents may have heard about the 2016 NJ Transit crash that killed one passenger and injured more than 100 others. The impact made part of the station's roof collapse. There were two conductors on that train, both of whom were injured. One sued NJ Transit in June of 2018. The other filed his suit in March of 2019.
Railroad workers in Connecticut might want to know about a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation's highest court ruled on a case concerning whether lost wage payments to injured railroad workers are taxable.
Connecticut residents who regularly take the train know how serious a railway accident can become. In February 2018, an Amtrak passenger train crashed into a parked CSX train just outside of Columbia, South Carolina, killing two train workers and injuring a total of 116 people.
Connecticut residents may be interested to know that the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled against a railroad worker who was suing NJ Transit for injuries suffered on the job. The judges claimed that the worker could not sue under the Federal Employers Liability Act because the transit authority was an arm of the state and had immunity. The decision could leave countless rail employees in Connecticut, New Jersey and beyond without legal protection in the event of an injury on the job.