Employer Not Negligent for Dangers It Could Not Foresee that Injured Employee
Description Appeals court reversed a judgment against a railroad company found negligent for unsafe working conditions. An employee, whose job was to inspect dangers along the railroad, was injured when he fell in a hole he was inspecting. The railroad had no knowledge of the dangers involved, so it was not negligent.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Safe Working Conditions
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Rogers, a railroad track inspector for Norfolk Southern, was sent to inspect a hole reported near a sidetrack on property owned by U.S. Silica. The hole was created by an underground pipeline blowout on Silica property, a fact unknown to Norfolk or Rogers. As Rogers approached the hole, the soil gave way, he fell and suffered permanent leg and back injuries that prevents him from doing track inspection work and limits other activities. He sued Norfolk and Silica for negligence. The jury awarded him $3 million; of which Norfolk was 30 percent responsible, Silica was 70 percent responsible. Norfolk appealed.
Decision Reversed. To prevail in a common-law negligence action in a suit such as this (under the Federal Employers Liability Act) the plaintiff just show duty, breach of duty, foreseeability, and causation. Norfolk had no knowledge, actual or constructive, that the underground pipe had caused the hole under the track. Rogers' job was to inspect such conditions, so he was the front-line person on such matters. Norfolk could not foresee the particulars of the hazard that Rogers was sent to inspect, hence it was not negligent.
Citation Rogers v. Norfolk Southern Corp., 2000 WL 1460046 (Ct. App., S.C., 2000)

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