Railroads

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Overview
Experience
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Briggs and Morgan is a nationally-recognized leader in representing railroads in mass tort, crossing litigation, FELA claims, environmental matters, and short-line disputes. Our lawyers have litigated numerous high-profile cases at all levels of the federal and state court systems and in numerous jurisdictions. We have submitted numerous railroad law-related briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, both for parties and amicus curiae. Through these cases, our attorneys have gained extensive trial and appellate experience, as well as deep knowledge of federal preemption and jurisdictional issues.

Briggs attorneys have handled numerous high-profile derailment litigation matters, including thousands of toxic exposure claims stemming from a major derailment in Minot, North Dakota. Briggs has also handled more than 100 personal injury / property damage claims and cause of action by the state and city stemming from alleged leakage of millions of gallons of diesel fuel.

Briggs has vast experience with the Federal Railroad Safety Act’s preemption of state law claims and standards of care. Briggs has successfully obtained summary judgment in several crossing litigation cases by establishing that the railroad complied with the federal standard of care. Briggs has also successfully consulted on and handled numerous appeals involving crossing litigation matters.

Briggs also represents railroads in a variety of environmental matters including private litigation and government actions. Briggs attorneys have considerable experience dealing with the many business, scientific and legal issues surrounding pollution disputes. Our lawyers have extensively analyzed and litigated the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act (MERLA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) from a railroad’s perspective.   

Briggs attorneys have a deep and thorough knowledge of the railroad business. Briggs regularly represents a Class I carrier in contract disputes with short-line railroads across the country. Briggs attorneys are experienced negotiators and litigators when payment disputes erupt between railroads. Briggs has successfully resolved or litigated many historical short-line contract disputes in federal courts throughout the county. Our lawyers’ knowledge of the railroad business is especially beneficial to our clients in these disputes where historical knowledge of the industry is a prerequisite to understanding and successfully resolving the case.

Representative Matters

  • Defended thousands of claims and numerous trials stemming out of a North Dakota derailment.
  • Defended through a jury verdict of FELA claim alleging traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder with allegations of significant damages.
  • Obtained defense verdict after jury trial in wrongful death case.
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal of two wrongful death claims stemming from railroad crossing accident.
  • Obtained summary judgment and affirmance on appeal in crossing accident case with allegations of significant damages of personal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Aggressively represented a railroad to obtain favorable settlement against trucking company less than a year after serious derailment.
  • Represented railroad in case of first impression regarding a private party's right to recover environmental clean-up costs under MERLA, Minn. Stat. § 115B.01 et seq.
  • Represented railroad in suit brought by citizens alleging personal injuries caused by living next to wood treating plant.
  • Represented successor to a railroad in both a regulatory dispute and liability allocation litigation involving an arsenic-contaminated property.
  • Defended FELA claim alleging injuries stemming from a derailment.
  • Defended railroad crossing accident case alleging traumatic brain injury.
  • Defended against and obtained favorable settlement in FELA claim alleging serious physical injuries from employee operating a switch.
  • Investigated derailment and defended all claims ranging from personal injury, environmental, to property damage.
  • Conducted statutory and regulatory analysis to assist in drafting contract regarding use of railroad tracks by state commuter trains.
  • Assisted in short line dispute regarding contractual issues between railroad and short line railroad.
  • Assisted on post-trial motions and appeals of high-profile crossing accident case.
  • Handled successful appeals regarding crossing accident to uphold dismissal of claims.
  • Appealed to Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals regarding flooding claims against railroad for alleged negligence of a culvert. Affirmed dismissal of all claims.
  • Negotiated favorable resolution of clean-up costs associated with anti-freeze spill for Class I carrier against tank-car owner.
  • Obtained declaratory relief for Class I carrier against short-line railroad on rates and defeated $13 million claim on summary judgment
  • Regularly represent Class I railroad in condemnation proceedings initiated in Minnesota.
  • Represented Class I carrier against other Class I carrier in private arbitration over haulage and trackage rights agreements.