BREACH OF CONTRACT – COAL DELIVERY – SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A Wisconsin public utility sued railroad for breach of contract. At issue was a multi-million dollar long-term contract for delivery of coal. The utility claimed that our client failed to deliver the desired quantity of coal and at the desired rate as purportedly agreed to in the coal delivery contract. On Summary Judgment, the railroad prevailed, with the federal court in Wisconsin finding no breach of contract. Summary Judgment was upheld by the Seventh Circuit concluding in Judge Posner’s opinion that impossibility of performance and force majeure terms of the contract permitted a change in rate.
FELA – CARPAL TUNNEL & NON-WORK ACTIVITY – DEFENSE VERDICT
This Jackson County, Missouri jury determined that a railroad employee’s claim that his work related injury resulted in his discharge from employment was unfounded. The jurors agreed that his injury was caused by non-work activity, and that his carpal tunnel release surgery rehabilitated this employee to permit him to return to work. Further, defense showed that the worker’s physical conditions, including obesity, thyroid problems and diabetes, were both non-work related and contributing factors to his susceptibility to carpal tunnel syndrome
PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE – ATTORNEY – SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A lawsuit filed in federal court by a Kansas City attorney’s former client alleged negligence in handling a prior discrimination case of the client against his former employer. We moved for Summary Judgment on behalf of the attorney, arguing that the outcome of the discrimination case was not the result of any negligence or malpractice by the attorney. The Court agreed, granting Summary Judgment, and the case against our client was dismissed.
PRODUCTS LIABILITY – TRAILER MANUFACTURER – SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Our client was sued by a man who was paralyzed in a fall from a hopper trailer that our client manufactured. The lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Missouri sought millions of dollars. One of the claims was that the trailer had a defective design. We filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, seeking dismissal of the claims. The trial court granted our motion. On appeal, the United States’ 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of all claims against our client.
BREACH OF CONTRACT – MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT – DEFENSE VERDICT
A regional energy supplier sued our railroad client and another railroad for breach of contract in a multi-year coal delivery agreement. The energy company sought millions of dollars in damages in federal court and desired to void the contract, which represented nearly a $500,000,000 agreement for the twenty year term. After several weeks of testimony in Federal Court in Kansas, the jury reached a verdict in favor of our client, finding the railroads had followed the terms of the contract. The jury did not award a single penny to the Plaintiffs.
PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE – INVESTMENT ADVISORS – COMPLEX LITIGATION
In several lawsuits brought by the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS), seeking millions of dollars in damages, we represented a group of investment advisors to KPERS. A number of parties were involved in this litigation that worked its way through the courts over a period of years. We secured favorable outcomes for our client. Originally brought in the state courts in Kansas, these matters were heard in the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court, and ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court.
WRONGFUL DEATH – GRAIN CARS – COURT OVERTURNS JURY’S VERDICT
The family of a grain worker who suffocated inside a grain hopper car sued our client, a national railroad company, which was operating the train cars. They claimed negligence and failure to warn of an unsafe condition. The jury hearing the case initially found in favor of the man’s family, but the judge determined that based on the evidence presented, the railroad company was not legally responsible and entered a verdict in favor of our client. On appeal, the Federal Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit affirmed the judge’s verdict for the railroad.
PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE – ATTORNEY – SUMMARY JUDGMENT
An attorney representing a criminal defendant in Kansas State Court was later sued by that client who alleged breach of contract and negligence in the attorney’s handling of his defense. Charged with possession of more than three hundred pounds of marijuana with the intent to sell and related counts, a plea was negotiated. The disgruntled client intended to go forward at trial without expert opinion regarding the standard of care or intricacies of criminal defense representation. We filed for Summary Judgment asserting the case would fail without expert testimony, and prevailed with the trial court. The case was dismissed against our client. That ruling was upheld on appeal and an attempt for rehearing of the appeal.
NEGLIGENCE – FITNESS CENTER – SUMMARY JUDGMENT
We represented a fitness center in this suit brought by a woman who claimed she lost her eye as a result of negligence and failure to warn of the dangers of rubber-band-type exercise equipment she used at our client’s facility. Our Motion for Summary Judgment was granted by the Kansas District Court, and that decision was affirmed by the Kansas Court of Appeals.
PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE – ATTORNEY – SUMMARY JUDGMENT
In this legal malpractice case, we defended a lawyer against claims of fraud and malpractice in connection with the handling of a corporate bankruptcy matter. The Federal Court in Kansas granted our motion for summary judgment, finding our client was not at fault. This ruling was upheld in the Court of Appeals.
FELA – KNEE INJURY– DEFENSE VERDICT
A Wyandotte County District Court jury rendered a defense verdict in a case in which a railroad track worker claimed that a spike cart was defective because he fell through a hole in the cart and injured his knee.
WRONGFUL DEATH RAILROAD – GRADE CROSSING ACCIDENT – DEFENSE VERDICT – REVERSAL – FAVORABLE RESOLUTION
Decedent, a man in his 40’s, was driving a farm tractor on a gravel road in South Central, Kansas. He approached a railroad grade crossing protected by advance warning signs, flashing lights, and crossbucks. Decedent was familiar with the crossing. The accident occurred in daylight. The train crew testified that the tractor did not stop, but pulled onto the crossing in front of the train. The train crew was operating the train in a proper manner, was blowing the whistle, and was operating within the federally mandated speed limit. Plaintiff’s family, who brought the lawsuit, alleged that the flashing lights were not working, and that it was an unsafe crossing.
After a two-week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict. Plaintiff appealed and the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the case for a new trial on a technical issue involving jury instructions. The case was then resolved on terms very favorable to the railroad.
FELA – BACK INJURY – DEFENSE VERDICT
A railroad conductor claimed that he injured his back while throwing a switch that he alleged was poorly maintained. The Jackson County jury found in favor of the railroad.
DERAILMENT – WATER DISCHARGED ON RAILROAD PROPERTY – LANDOWNER HELD RESPONSIBLE
This case arose out of a railroad derailment that occurred in downtown Wichita, Kansas. The derailment resulted in significant damages to railroad property, as well as buildings adjacent to the railroad’s trackage. The firm’s investigation and discovery uncovered significant evidence that an adjoining landowner was discharging water onto the railroad’s property. This evidence enabled the firm to defend the damages claims made by certain property owners and recover damages, via settlement, from the property owner who was discharging water onto railroad property.
GRADE CROSSING ACCIDENT – DIVERSITY ISSUES – REMOVAL TO FEDERAL COURT APPROPRIATE
This case involved a train versus motor-vehicle accident near Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas. The railroad removed this case on diversity of citizenship grounds from state court to federal district court. The firm successfully defended against Plaintiff’s attempt to remand the case by amending her Complaint to add a new Kansas resident defendant. The Court, in denying remand, for the first time in this district, adopted case authority from other jurisdictions that noted that diversity is determined at the time an Amended Complaint is filed. At the subject time, the plaintiff was a resident of Texas and thus diversity was preserved. Moreover, the Court adopted our argument that the plaintiff had not pled a colorable survivorship claim, thus the citizenship of the decedent did not matter in the diversity analysis.
GRADE CROSSING ACCIDENT –– RULE 35 MEDICAL EXAMINATION – PLAINTIFF’S UNREASONABLE CONDITIONS ON EXAM DENIED
A garbage truck collided with a train in rural Pottawatomie County, Kansas. During discovery, the railroad sought to require a plaintiff to submit to a medical examination as provided for in Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The subject plaintiff would only agree to appear upon certain conditions that would have corrupted the Rule 35 process and been manifestly unfair to the railroad’s discovery. After briefing and arguing the issues, the Court adopted the Rule 35 reasoning advanced on behalf of our client, following the majority of judges of the Kansas federal district court and denied the plaintiff the unfair conditions he sought to impose on his Rule 35 exam.
FELA – DISHONESTY IN PLAINTIFF’S DEPOSITION – CASE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE
A former railroad employee filed a lawsuit in Wyandotte County, Kansas under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. During this former employee’s deposition, while under oath, he made numerous claims about his employment with our railroad client, his alleged employment with a railroad in the Far East, and his service with the United States armed forces, which were false and inaccurate. On behalf of the railroad, we filed a Motion to Dismiss based on these discovery abuses. The Court granted our Motion, and dismissed the case with prejudice.
RAILROAD CROSSING ACCIDENT – SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION – IMPROPER PARTY –DISMISSAL AFFIRMED
This railroad crossing accident case was originally filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. We filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the lack of complete diversity between plaintiff and the defendants, including our railroad client. The lawsuit was then filed in Missouri State Court. On our motion, the state court dismissed the case because it was brought improperly in the name of the Estate of the Decedent and not by his heirs. In opposing the plaintiff’s subsequent motion to amend the pleadings to reflect the proper party, we successfully argued that such an amendment would not save the lawsuit because a proper party had not timely commenced the lawsuit. In an unpublished decision, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District affirmed this decision.