Elston v. Union Pac. R.R. Co
In Elston v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 74 P.3d 478, 488 (Colo. App. 2003), the Court of Appeals of Colorado held that a railroad employee's FELA claim was not precluded by FRSA regulations.
Elston, who was allegedly injured while walking alongside the tracks when he slipped and fell on ballast, brought suit under FELA alleging that the railroad was negligent for failing to provide reasonably safe walkways. Id. at 481.
Elston "asserted that, because the railroad employer often required its employees to walk the length of the train to make repairs or change train crews, defendant's failure to provide a reasonably safe walkway alongside the train created a foreseeable risk of harm that caused, in whole or in part, his injury." Id. at 482.
The Court of Appeals of Colorado noted that "the issue of walkways is not explicitly addressed in the federal safety regulations." Id. at 487.
Upon review of the FRSA's track safety standards, the Court of Appeals of Colorado concluded that FRSA regulations, including 49 C.F.R. 213.103, "are directed at promoting a safe roadbed for trains, but offer no indication whether a railroad has a duty to provide safe walkways for employees alongside its tracks." Id. at 488.
The Court of Appeals of Colorado noted that the railroad had "failed to adduce any evidence that the FRA, in promulgating the track safety standards, even considered the issue of safe walkways for railroad employees." Id.
As such, the Court of Appeals of Colorado held that the FRSA regulations did not cover walkways, and Elston's FELA claim was not precluded. Id. at 487-88.