United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
WILLIAM T. RUCKER and MARIE RUCKER, Plaintiffs,
RDS FARM, INC., DAVID L. ALLEN NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION and CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., Defendants, NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION d/b/a AMTRAK, Cross-Claimant,
DAVID L. ALLEN and RDS FARM, INC. Cross-Defendants, NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION d/b/a AMTRAK, Third Party Plaintiff,
RONALD ALLEN, Third Party Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
JUDGE THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
12, 2013, in rural Indiana, an Amtrak passenger train
collided with a farm tractor hauling a nurse tank filled with
anhydrous ammonia as the tractor's driver, David Allen,
crossed railroad tracks owned by CSX Transportation, Inc.
William Rucker, who was engineering the train on behalf of
his employer, National Railroad Passenger Corporation
(Amtrak), has sued Allen, RDS Farm, Inc. (the Farm) that owns
the tractor involved in the collision, Amtrak, and CSX
Transportation, Inc. (CSX Transportation). Marie Rucker
brings loss of consortium claims against CSX Transportation.
and CSX Transportation have moved for summary judgment [ECF
No. 48] on the claims that Rucker asserts against them, which
include claims against Amtrak under the Federal Employers
Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. § 51, et seq.,
and the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA), 49 U.S.C. §
20701, et seq., and a common law negligence claim
against CSX Transportation. In light of the derivative nature
of the loss of consortium claim, CSX Transportation also
requests summary judgment on that claim.
AND STATEMENT OF FACTS
parties have lodged numerous evidentiary objections.
(See Pls.' Mot. to Strike Exs. to the Mot. for
Summ. J., ECF No. 51 (moving to strike White County Indiana
Incident Report No. 902035807, Declaration of Douglas T.
Gannaway, Declaration of Russell Schanlaub, Declaration of
Brian Pogue, and Declaration of Sean Cronin); Defs.' Mot.
to Strike the Aff. and Report of Stuart Nightenhenlser, ECF
No. 60; Pls.' Mot. to Strike the Defs.' Suppl.
Designation of Evid. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No.
63; Defs.' Mot. to Strike Portions of the Dep. of Brian
Pogue, ECF No. 77.) The Court will address these motions only
as they pertain to evidence that is material to the outcome
of the pending Motion for Summary Judgment. If evidence is
not relevant, the Court will not consider it, as
“[i]rrelevant or unnecessary facts do not deter summary
judgment, even when in dispute.” Harney v. Speedway
SuperAmerica, LLC, 526 F.3d 1099, 1104 (7th Cir. 2008).
Moreover, the Court is mindful that Rule 56 requires that an
affidavit used to support or oppose a summary judgment motion
“be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that
would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is
competent on the matters stated.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(4); see also Fed. R. Evid. 602 (“A
witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is
introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness
has personal knowledge of the matter.”). However,
personal knowledge is not a rigid requirement; it also
“includes opinions and inferences grounded in
observations or other first-hand experience.”
United States v. Joy, 192 F.3d 761, 767 (7th Cir.
1999) (citing Visser v. Packer Eng'g Assoc.,
Inc., 924 F.2d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 1991)).
the numerous motions to strike, the facts contained below are
not in dispute. Facts that are challenged on an evidentiary
basis, or otherwise disputed, will be addressed in the
analysis section of the Opinion and Order as necessary for
resolution of the Motion for Summary Judgment.
12, 2013, at around 8:45 a.m., David Allen was traveling
north on County Road 200 West driving a John Deere farm
tractor, which was pulling a disc harrow for tilling soil and
an anhydrous ammonia nurse tank. At the same time, an Amtrak
train being operated by Engineer William T. Rucker was
traveling northwest on a CSX Transportation owned railroad
track that would intersect with County Road 200 West. As the
train approached the crossing, Rucker observed Allen's
tractor nearing the tracks. He testified that he could tell
it would be difficult for Allen to get matters under control,
so he began blowing the train's horn, well in advance of
the whistle post for the crossing. Allen had not seen or
heard the train and drove the tractor onto the crossing. As
the train approached the crossing, Rucker sounded the horn
multiple times and applied braking, hoping that Allen would
be able to cross the tracks before the train arrived at the
was seated in the engineer's seat on the right side of
the lead locomotive. The lead locomotive struck the disc
harrow at about 47 miles per hour, and the impact separated
the anhydrous ammonia tank. The momentum of the locomotive
carried it through the impact without causing an abrupt stop.
The anhydrous ammonia tank was not ruptured, but the hoses
were filled with ammonia at the time of impact, and one of
the applicator hoses broke the engineer-side window of the
locomotive. According to Rucker, he inhaled the anhydrous
ammonia and it splattered on his right arm, shoulder, and
intersection is one that Allen had encountered hundreds of
times before the day of the collision. Allen testified that
he would have encountered signage as he approached the
crossing, including a yield sign and a crossbuck advising of
the presence of two sets of tracks. He also testified that
there is a stop bar, and pavement markings to indicate the
approach to the railroad crossing. Allen testified that he
does not always come to a complete stop before traveling over
the crossing, as it depends on whether he could see clearly.
If he could see clearly, he would not stop. If he could not
see clearly, he would stop. Allen does not know why he did
not stop on the day of the collision. Allen estimates that
his speed as he approached the crossing was between 6 to 10
miles per hour, perhaps as high as 12 miles per hour. While
he thinks he would have slowed as he approached the crossing,
he admits that he did not stop prior to driving onto the
asked what made that particular railroad crossing a difficult
one, Allen answered:
would say the angle at which the railroad track is
intersecting the road and then the trees and obstructions
that are there make it difficult.
Okay. Now, you said trees. Where are the trees that pose a
Between the-or they're right next to the tracks, or next
to the tracks.
Dep. 40, ECF No. 50-1.) Allen explained that the trees at
issue were in the southeast quadrant of the intersection. He
also stated that, as far as obstructions were concerned, the
trees were the only problem. However, he also believed that
the angle at which the track intersects the road when you are
traveling north made it more difficult to see a train
approaching from the southeast, because a driver had to
“really turn his head back around” to the right
to see the train. (Id.)
judgment is warranted when “the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). To survive summary judgment, a nonmovant
must be able to show that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict in his favor; if he is unable to “establish the
existence of an element essential to [his] case, and on which
[he] will bear the burden of proof at trial, ”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986),
summary judgment must be granted. A bare contention that an
issue of fact exists is insufficient to create a factual
dispute, but the court must construe all facts in a light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, view all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor, see Bellaver v.
Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485, 491-92 (7th Cir. 2000), and
avoid “the temptation to decide which party's
version of the facts is more likely true, ” Payne
v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003) (noting the
often stated proposition that “summary judgment cannot
be used to resolve swearing contests between
litigants”). A fact must be outcome determinative under
the governing law to be considered material. Insolia v.
Philip Morris Inc., 216 F.3d 596, 598-99 (7th Cir.
FELA and LIA Claim Against Amtrak Regarding Condition of the
claims that Amtrak is liable to him under the Federal
Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. § 51, et
seq., and the Locomotive Inspection Act, 49 U.S.C.
§ 20701, et seq. based on the condition of the
locomotive. He maintains that the locomotive cab did not
contain adequate window safety glazing, and that it was not
an overall crashworthy cab. Rucker also asserts that there is
genuine issue of material fact whether insect debris on the
windshield caused by the absence of window washer fluid
impaired his view of the crossing and the approaching farm
was enacted “to provide a remedy to railroad employees
injured as a result of their employers'
negligence.” Waymire v. Norfolk & W. Ry.
Co., 218 F.3d 773, 775 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing
Kossman v. Ne. Ill. Reg'l Commuter R.R. Corp.,
211 F.3d 1031, 1035 (7th Cir. 2000)).
Every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce
between any of the several States . . . shall be liable in
damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed
by such carrier in such commerce, . . . for such injury . . .
resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of
the officers, agents or employees of such carrier or by
reason of any defect or insufficiency, due to its negligence,