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Miller is Hendrix v. Port Terminal Railroad Association – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Miller is Hendrix v. Port Terminal Railroad Association, 196 S.W.3d 188 (Tex. App. 2006), the Court of Appeals of Texas considered whether the FRSA and its regulations precluded the appellant's claims for personal injuries arising out of allegations of unsafe walkway conditions and rail yard ballast that was "too large and mixed." 196 S.W.3d at 195, 193.

The appellant argued that his claims were not precluded by the FRSA. Id. at 193.

He emphasized that (1) "the federal regulations concerning ballast deal with the safety of the track, not the safety of employees working in and around tracks," and (2) "he was not injured because of a track structure that was not properly supported by ballast or because the ballast did not provide proper drainage, but rather because of unsafe walkway conditions and bad footing." Id. at 193.

The appellee railroad countered, arguing that the regulations authorized by FRSA "specifically addressing ballast . . . occupy the field with regard to the subject matter of the regulation and of rail safety," precluding, inter alia, "allegations in a FELA suit regarding the same subject matter." Id.

The Court held that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the railroad on the ground of preclusion, concluding: "The FRSA does not preclude, as a matter of law, any and all employee FELA claims that relate to or touch upon walkway conditions and the size of rail yard ballast." Id. at 201 .