The Federal Employers Liability Act is the law that protects rail workers who are injured or killed on the job. The most important FELA case to reach the United States Supreme Court in the last 50 years was argued this morning. At stake is whether the FELA’s long recognized standard of relaxed causation—namely, that a railroad is liable for an employee’s injury or death if it “results in whole or part, even to the slightest degree,” from the negligence of the railroad—was going to be overturned and replaced with a higher hurdle more difficult for employees to clear.
Arguing on behalf of all railroad employees was David C. Frederick, a veteran Supreme Court advocate who did an excellent job explaining why the relaxed standard must remain in place. If you have never been to a Supreme Court oral argument, the transcript of this morning’s argument is well worth reading to get a flavor of how our nation’s highest court deals with issues that affect the entire country. For the transcript of CSX Transp., Inc. v. McBride, click here. A decision will be handed down by June, so stay tuned.