Metro North Railroad’s attempt to exempt itself from punitive damages under the Federal Rail Safety Act has failed. In a case of first impression, an ALJ has just ruled that ALL railroads–including publicly owned commuter railroads–are subject to the FRSA’s punitive damage remedy. Plus, the ALJ is requiring Metro North Railroad to go through the past 196 injuries it reported to the FRA and produce documents confirming any discipline initated against the employees who reported those injuries. Why? Because when "determining whether punitive damages are warranted . . . prior similar acts may be important in determining whether a wrongdoer’s conduct was reprehensible and thus subject to punitive damages." This is a major step forward in ensuring the protection of railroad workers who report injuries or safety concerns. To read the ALJ’s detailed and well-reasoned decision, click here, and to see OSHA’s earlier ruling regarding my four clients,click here.