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Redos v. Union Pacific Railroad Co.

July 24, 2009

JOHN F. REDOS, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff filed this action on May 12, 2008. His case was later ordered related to Nickels v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, 2:08-cv-01155-MCE-KJM, and was then consolidated for discovery purposes with Nickles and Gomez v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, 2:09-cv-002255-MCE-KJM. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, which is materially identical to that filed in Nickles, 2:08-cv-01155. For the following reasons, the instant Motion is denied.*fn1

BACKGROUND*fn2

Plaintiff initiated this action seeking to recover for injuries suffered as a result of the derailment of rail grinding track maintenance equipment. The equipment was owned and operated by Harsco Track Technologies ("Harsco"), a contractor providing services for Union Pacific. Plaintiff Redos supervised the rail grinding equipment and Plaintiff Nickles was its operator.

According to Plaintiff's Statement of Undisputed Facts, Union Pacific contracted with Harsco for rail grinding services. Pursuant to that contract, Union Pacific was to provide qualified personnel to accompany the equipment and to obtain track occupancy time. Additionally, it was Defendant's responsibility to arrange for transportation of Harsco's equipment to and between the locations where grinding was to occur.

Additionally, the Harsco/Union Pacific contract specifically stated that Harsco and its agents and employees were not to be considered employees of Union Pacific. Rather, Harsco was clearly delineated as an independent contractor. Union Pacific retained no control over "employment, discharge, compensation and service" of Harsco employees.

When grinding was to occur, Union Pacific made the decision as to when the Harsco equipment should travel between work sites, all of which travel was conducted on Union Pacific tracks. Additionally, the Harsco equipment was never moved unless an employee of Defendant was on board. The Union Pacific employee assigned to this equipment made all final decisions regarding track movement, and that employee supervised the operation and administration of the train such that his orders were required to be followed. Defendant's employee also acted as the communication link with Union Pacific and performed other ministerial duties.

Nevertheless, Defendant proffered additional evidence that the above Union Pacific employee never gave orders to Harsco employees as to the performance of their duties. Rather, Harsco employees were in control of the grinding equipment, directed its operation, and had the authority to stop the grinding operations.

STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-324 (1986).

Rule 56 also allows a court to grant summary adjudication on part of a claim or defense. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) ("A party seeking to recover upon a claim ... may ... move ... for a summary judgment in the party's favor upon all or any part thereof."); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v. Madan, 889 F. Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995); France Stone Co., Inc. v. Charter Township of Monroe, 790 F. Supp. 707, 710 (E.D. Mich. 1992).

The standard that applies to a motion for summary adjudication is the same as that which applies to a motion for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), 56(c); Mora v. ChemTronics, 16 F. Supp. 2d. 1192, 1200 (S.D. Cal. 1998).

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any,' ...


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