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Grimes v. Norfolk Railway Co.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
116 F. Supp. 2d 995 (2000)
Vernon Grimes (plaintiff) was working as a brakeman/conductor for Norfolk Railway Co. (Norfolk) (defendant) on August 15, 1997. On that night, a car was parked on the railroad tracks, and the train hit the car. Grimes and another employee got out of the train and walked down the tracks to inspect the train and the car. There was not a safe walkway around the tracks. The area next to the tracks, the ballast, was too steep and contained large rocks that rolled easily. The edge of the ballast, where Grimes decided was the safest place to walk, contained grass, weeds, dirt, and loose ballast stones. Grimes stepped into a hole the size of a basketball and was injured. Grimes filed an action against Norfolk for negligent failure to maintain a safe walkway. Grimes claimed that Norfolk had violated its own standards in failing to maintain the walkway. Norfolk filed for summary judgment, arguing that it would be overly burdensome to maintain a safe walkway on its 22,000 miles of tracks given that it was very rare for a conductor or anyone to have to walk along the tracks. To dispute Norfolk’s allegation, Grimes submitted the affidavits of three Norfolk employees who said that they regularly worked that route and they had to stop and walk along the tracks in 20 to 25 percent of their runs.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sharp, J.)
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