“By overlaying a separate state-law regime on top of the one Congress created, the Montana Supreme Court’s decision—if allowed to stand—will unduly interfere with FELA’s efficient and uniform compensation scheme.”
— Cory Andrews, WLF General Counsel & Vice President of Litigation
Click here for WLF’s brief.
WASHINGTON, DC— Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to review, and ultimately to reverse, a decision of the Montana Supreme Court that unfairly hamstrings railway companies in their efforts to defend against personal-injury suits by their employees. WLF’s brief was joined by the Allied Educational Foundation.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) provides the sole remedy by which railway employees may recover from their employer for work-related injuries. FELA’s exclusive compensation scheme differs markedly from state worker-compensation regimes, by which employees may recover for their injuries only in no-fault administrative proceedings. Recovery under FELA also tends to be more generous than that available under state worker-compensation laws. As a result, FELA occupies the entire field of railway-employer liability for railway employees’ work-related injuries.
Yet the Montana Supreme Court’s decision permits employees to supplement their FELA claims with a second suit alleging bad faith in defending against FELA claims. In its amicus brief, WLF argues that when Congress adopted FELA, it intended to preempt the entire field of railway-injury claims, thus barring under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause the very state-law claims Montana courts routinely recognize. WLF asks the Supreme Court to grant review and clarify that FELA preempts Montana’s bad faith tort regime, which unduly interferes with Congress’s exclusive scheme for compensating railroad workers.