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United States v. Hanousek

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
176 F.3d 1116 (9th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S.1102(2000)


Edward Hanousek, Jr. (defendant) worked for the Pacific & Arctic Railway and Navigation Company as the roadmaster of the White Pass & Yukon Railroad. This railroad ran from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. As roadmaster, Hanousek was responsible for the safe and efficient construction of track and special projects. In May 1994, Hanousek took over a rock-quarrying project along a portion of the railroad called “6-mile.” A petroleum pipeline also ran along the side of the railroad at or above ground level through this section. Before Hanousek took over this project, the contractor working on the railroad installed railroad ties, sand, and ballast material along a 300-foot section to protect the pipeline. This was the customary method of providing protection in these circumstances. After Hanousek took over, no other sections were provided this protection. Instead, the contractor only used a work platform of sand and gravel along the section where work was being performed. In October 1994, an employee of the contractor attempted to use a backhoe to remove some rocks that had fallen near the pipeline in a section that was not protected. The employee struck the pipeline with the bucket of the backhoe and caused a rupture. Between 1,000 and 5,000 gallons of oil were discharged into the nearby Skagway River. The federal government (plaintiff) charged Hanousek with negligently discharging a harmful quantity of oil into a navigable water of the United States. The jury convicted Hanousek, and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Thompson, J.)

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