Charles Harris worked on the sixth floor of the Black Bear Preparation Plant which, sadly, was a coal loading facility, not a bear manufacturing facility. One day, Norfolk Southern railroad, owners of the trains and track receiving coal, backed a train along a corroded section of track. The train derailed, with train cars crashing into the Black Bear loading facility's support beams and sending it, and Harris, crashing to the ground.
Harris sued, alleging that Norfolk Southern was, through its negligence, liable for its injuries. While the railroad had failed to inspect the track as required by federal regulations, that failure alone wasn't enough to establish proximate cause as a matter of law, the Fourth Circuit ruled last week.