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101 Article 573 F. The FRSAâs Continued Preemption of State Laws Since the 573 2007 Amendment An article published in the Transportation Law Journal, examining the state of federal preemption under the FRSA after the 2007 amendment, states that although the 2007 amendment clarified the FRSA by listing exceptions to the general rule of preemption, âthe statute will continue to assure that federal regulations regarding particular areas of railroad safety will supersede state laws covering the same subject.â 458 XXIV. FEDERAL SAFETY APPLIANCE ACT 575 A. Introduction 575 This part of the digest discusses the railroad safety appliances that are required by the current Federal Safety Appliance Act (FSAA).459 Section B discusses the regulation of railroad safety equipment, including civil penalties that may be imposed for violations of the FSAA. Section C discusses cases arising out of a violation of the FSAA resulting in claims for death or injury. Section D calls attention to rules published by the American Association of Railroads. Statutes and Regulations 576 B. Regulation of Railroad Equipment Safety 576 1. Standards for Safety Devices Under the FSAA 576 As discussed in this subpart, the FSAA provides a detailed description of devices that railroads have to install prior to using a vehicle or railcar.460 2. Requirements for Safety Appliances Under the Federal Regulations 576 The requirements for specific safety appliances are described in more detail in the federal regulations.461 458 Frank J. Mastro, Preemption is not Dead: The Continued Vitality of Preemption under the Federal Railroad Safety Act Following the 2007 Amendment to 49 U.S.C. Â§ 20106, 37 TRANSP. L. J. 1, 25 (2010). 459 Magelky v. BNSF Ry. Co., 579 F. Supp. 2d 1299 (D. N.D. 2008) (âThe duty imposed on a railroad carrier by the Federal Safety Appliance Act is an absolute one.â) (citing Brady v. Terminal R.R. Ass'n of St. Louis, 303 U.S. 10, 15, 58 S. Ct. 426, 82 L. Ed. 614 (1938)). 460 49 U.S.C. Â§ 20302 (2014). 461 49 C.F.R. Â§ 231.0 (2014).
102 3. No Assumption of Risk by Railroad Employees 577 An employee of a railroad carrier does not assume the risk of injury resulting from the use of a train that is in violation of the FSAA.462 4. Civil Penalties for Violations of the FSAA 577 Under the regulations, any person, as defined by the FSAA, who violates federal railroad safety laws is subject to civil penalties as further discussed in this subpart.463 Cases 578 C. Claims for Injury or Death of Employees for a Violation of the FSAA 578 1. When a Train Is âIn Useâ Under the FSAA 578 In Deans v. CSX Transportation, Inc.,464 the Fourth Circuit held that the FSAA âimposes absolute liability on railroad carriersâ for violations of the law if a train is âin useâ at the time of an accident465 and that a railroad company shall not use a vehicle on its line if it lacks efficient hand brakes.466 2. When a Violation of the FSAA Is Negligence Per Se for the Purpose 580 of a FELA Claim In Marshall v. Grand Trunk W. R.R. Co.,467 a federal district court in Michigan held that to prove an FSAA violation the plaintiff Marshall did not have to show that Grand Trunk had prior notice of the defect468 and that in this case the railroadâs violations of the FSAA constituted negligence per se.469 462 49 U.S.C. Â§ 20304 (2014). 463 49 C.F.R. Â§ 229.7(b) (2014). 464 152 F.3d 326 (4th Cir. 1998). 465 Id. at 328. 466 Id. (quoting 49 U.S.C. Â§ 20302(a)). 467 850 F. Supp. 2d 686 (W.D. Mich. 2011). 468 Id. at 698. 469 Id. at 700 and 708.
103 3. Requirement that Efficient Handbrakes Work Properly Every 582 Time They Are Used In Schroeder v. Grand Truck W. R.R. Co.,470 a federal district court in Michigan held that a handbrakeâs performance is adequate only when it works efficiently every time; an inefficient handbrake violates the FSAA.471 4. Whether a Device Comes Within the FSAA Is a Question of Law 583 In Johnson v. Union Pacific R. Co.,472 a federal district court in California held that the list of safety appliances should be understood to mean categories of appliances473 and that the support for an air hose was part of the brake system and, therefore, a safety appliance under the statute.474 5. When a Violation of the FSAA Is Negligence for the Purpose of 584 an Indemnity Claim In Burlington Northern R.R. Co. v. Farmers Union Oil Co. of Rolla,475 the Eighth Circuit held that Burlington Northernâs lessee of a railcar failed to prove that Burlington Northern could have discovered the defect through an inspection or that the railcar was defective before the lessee received it.476 Article 586 6. Specific Safety Devices and Appliances Required Under the FSAA 586 As discussed in an article available online, the FSAA mandates that trains have train brakes that allow the engineer to control the speed of the train; secure running boards, handholds, grab irons, sill steps and ladders; and functional couplers so that employees do not have to pass between cars to uncouple them.477 470 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139233, at *1, 4 (E.D. Mich., Dec. 5 2011). 471 Id. at *10. 472 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22151, at *1, 2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2004). 473 Id. at *8 (citing Jordan v. S. Ry. Co., 970 F.2d 1350, 1354 (4th Cir. 1992)). 474 Id. at *12. 475 207 F.3d 526 (8th Cir. 2000). 476 Id. at 533. 477 FELA Federal Safety Appliance Act, Online Lawyer Source, available at: http://www.onlinelawyersource.com/fela/safety-act/ (last accessed Mar. 31, 2015).