Supreme Court Reinstates Jury Verdict For Railroad

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated a jury verdict denying recovery for a railroad employee who claimed he was injured as the result of a faulty railroad switch. Andrew Spencer sued Norfolk Southern Railway after injuring his back on May 16, 2010, when he threw a switch in an effort to move a section of track. 

In order to recover damages, Mr. Spencer was required to prove that Norfolk Southern knew or should have known that the switch was not operating properly and failed to take adequate precautionary measures prior to the incident.

The instruction to the jury specified the railroad knew or should have known “on the day of the incident” that the switch wasn’t working.  Mr. Spencer appealed, claiming the trial court had erroneously narrowed the “notice window” and required him to prove that the railroad was specifically aware on the day of the injury, not just some time prior to the incident.

In a unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Gary Wade, the Court ruled that the trial judge’s instructions were substantially accurate and he had properly instructed the jury on whether Norfolk Southern had notice of a defect in the switch, reversing a Court of Appeals decision that held that the instruction was erroneous. 

To read the majority opinion in Andrew Spencer v. Norfolk Southern Railway authored by Chief Justice Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.

Nominations Now Open For The 2015 Latino Leadership Awards

The 2015 Latino Leadership Awards will be held on September 21 at the Downtown Chattanooga Mariott.The La Paz Chattanooga Latino Leadership Awards banquet is an annual celebration that honors the contributions area Latino leaders are making across the Chattanooga community. At the event, attendees will recognize 10 extraordinary local leaders for their work and service throughout ... (click for more)

Nine Chattanooga Area Allstate Agency Owners Earn Prestigious Designations

As business leaders and involved citizens in the Chattanooga area, nine Allstate agents earned the Allstate Premier Agency Designation for 2015. The Premier Agency designation is awarded to Allstate agency owners who have demonstrated excellence in delivering an accessible, knowledgeable and personal customer experience while achieving outstanding business results. The designation ... (click for more)

Bradley County Commission Rejects 10-Cent Tax Rise For Lake Forest MS; Firefighters Get $3,000 Raise

With a small crowd of demonstrators sitting in the back of the room with signs that read, “Vote no on property tax increase,” the Bradley County Commission on Monday night finally rejected a proposed 10-cent property tax increase that would have added funds to the construction of a new academic building at Lake Forest Middle School.   Funding for renovations at ... (click for more)

11 Attorneys Apply In 2nd Round For Replacing Judge Stern

Eleven attorneys have applied in the second round of applications to replace Rebecca Stern as judge of Criminal Court's Division II. The applicants are: Christian J. Coder Chattanooga Tracy Cox Signal Mountain Amanda B. Dunn Chattanooga Ardena Juanita Garth Chattanooga Thomas Clifton Greenholtz Ooltewah Andrea DeFay Hayduk ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Hay Fields Of July

Oh my goodness, July has just arrived and during my formative years, it was the most hated month of the year. When I was 12 years old, my wonderful grandfather decreed the days of begging for money to go to the picture show and burgers at the Krystal were over, that I was on the payroll for a dollar an hour and, in our family, folks worked for what they spent. Now my grandfather, ... (click for more)