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Sullivan v. Scoular Grain Co. of Utah

Utah Supreme Court
853 P.2d 877 (1993)


Facts

Kenneth Sullivan (plaintiff) lost his left arm and leg in an accident on the railroad tracks as he uploaded grain from rail cars into warehouses. Sullivan filed suit in federal district court against his employers Scoular Grain Company of Utah, Freeport Center Associates, and Scoular Grain Company (the Scoular Parties) as well as Union Pacific Railroad Company, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Company, Oregon Short Line Railroad Company, Utah Power & Light Company, Trackmobile, Inc. (Trackmobile), and G.W. Van Keppel Company (defendants). The district court found that the Scoular Parties were immune from suit under the exclusive remedy provision of the state’s workers compensation law and dismissed them from the action. The court further found that Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad had no legal duty to Sullivan and dismissed it from the suit. Trackmobile moved to have the jury apportion and compare the fault of all originally-named defendants, including the Scoular Parties. Sullivan argued that only the fault of the parties who are defendants at trial may be apportioned. The district court certified a question for consideration by the Utah Supreme Court, namely whether under the state’s comparative fault law a jury may apportion the fault of the Scoular Parties that contributed to the accident even though the employers are immune from suit under the state’s workers compensation law.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Durham, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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