Block on Trump's Asylum Ban Upheld by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals dismissal of Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products today, agreeing with the Philadelphia-based appellate court that the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) preempts Pennsylvania tort law claims for asbestos exposure.
Plaintiff George Corson, spent 27 years as a locomotive welder and machinist, installing brakeshoes on locomotives and stripping insulation from locomotive boilers, both of which contained asbestos. After Corson developed mesothelioma, which is caused solely by asbestos exposure, he sued 59 railroad-related defendants in Pennsylvania state court, claiming that the defendants’ defective design and failure to warn caused his injuries.
The defendants removed the case to federal court, and moved for summary judgment. Both the district court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the case should be dismissed because the LIA preempts any state-tort based product liability claims. Today, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals made the right call on the case based on the 1926 ruling in Napier v. Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, rejected plaintiffs' arguments that their claims fall outside of the field preempted by the LIA, as it was defined in Napier.
What's interesting here is that the plaintiffs did not ask the Third Circuit or SCOTUS to overrule Napier. The plaintiffs offered four arguments for why their claims fell outside the scope of the LIA:
Though the Supreme Court agreed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, this will be an unpopular decision. A number of public interest groups -- and even the federal government -- submitted briefs urging the Court to let the plaintiffs bring their defective design or failure to warn claims in state court.