Supreme Court Will Hear Oral Arguments March 28, 2011 to Decide Causation Standard Under Federal Employers' Liability Act
Exerts from article 11/30/2010
By Joanne Deschenaux, J.D.
"Society for Human Resource Management" Senior Legal Editor
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, Nov. 29, 2010, to review a decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling that an employee seeking damages under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) need not prove that the employer's negligence was a "proximate" cause of the employee's injury. The 7th Circuit found no error in the jury instruction given by the trial court, which stated that the defendant caused the plaintiff's injury if defendant's negligence "played a part" in bringing about the injury." The trial court refused an instruction requiring a finding of "proximate" cause defined "as any cause which, in natural or probable sequence, produced the injury complained of."
Historically, a plaintiff seeking damages for an injury would be required to show proximate cause as one of the elements of his or her case. However, the language and legislative history of FELA, combined with how it has been interpreted by courts though the years, have led many courts to hold that a plaintiff need not show proximate cause in a case brought under the statute.
The Association of American Railroads, an incorporated, nonprofit trade association representing the nation's major freight railroads and Amtrak, had urged the high court to hear the case.
In depth reading on this found under Supreme Court Briefs