Ninth Circuit Holds BNSF May Have FELA Liability For Western Fruit Express Car Shop in Spokane.

| May 18, 2010 | Firm News

On May 18, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that our client John Schmidt can present his claims to a jury in John Schmidt v. BNSF Railway Co. and Western Fruit Express, Inc. For many years Mr. Schmidt worked in a freight car shop in Spokane, Washington. Over a 20-year period he received paychecks and correspondence from Burlington Northern and then BNSF indicating he was a railroad employee. He wants to pursue his injury claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). However, BNSF and its wholly-owned subsidiary Western Fruit Express allege that Mr. Schmidt was actually a Western Fruit Express employee and that he therefore has no FELA rights. In its May 18 opinion the Ninth Circuit ruled that even if Western Fruit Express employed Mr. Schmidt, a properly instructed jury could still reasonably find that BNSF exercised enough control over his workplace to make BNSF liable for his injury under the FELA.