I . IntroductionThis is an appeal from a summary judgment order, entered by the Bullitt Circuit Court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, in favor of Appellees, CSX Transportation, Inc., and one of its engineers. Appellants, Mary and Jesse Calhoun, contend that summary judgment was not appropriate. We accepted discretionary review to consider Appellants' contentions and for, the reasons stated below, affirm in part and reverse in part.
The crux of the present controversy centers around whether the particular railroad crossing was public or private, and the corresponding duty a railroad owes at such crossing. Generally speaking, at a private crossing, a railroad has no duty of lookout, or to warn (unless it knows that a person is in actual peril of being struck), or to clear vegetation from around its right-of-way . Yet, this minimal duty at private crossings is enhanced in three instances: where a different duty was assumed; if the crossing is, or becomes, ultrahazardous ; or where, by pervasive use, the character of a private crossing has changed to a public one.
II. BackgroundThis case arises out of a non-fatal railroad accident at a crossing in Bullitt County, where a CSX train, operated by Paul L. McClintock, Jr., the engineer, collided with a car driven by Mary Calhoun. As part of her morning routine for three months prior to the accident, Mary drove her sons to work at Bullitt County Sanitation (Sanitation Company), a privately owned company. In doing so, she traversed an unnamed, partially gravel road (the road), which eventually crossed a single set of CSX's north-south railroad tracks at the crossing in question. The Sanitation Company was located on the west side of the crossing. So, her approach in the morning was from east to west and her exit was the reverse.
CSX's track sets in a sixty-six foot right-of-way which perpendicularly intersects the road . This crossing (the BCS crossing) is marked with crossbucks, but has no other warning signs; there is no whistle boards immediately prior to the crossing. Additionally, on the Sanitation Company side of the crossing, there is a tree line stretching north into the horizon, running parallel with CSX's right-of-way . Furthermore, at the time of the accident, there was extensive vegetation growth along the Sanitation Company's side of the crossing.
Judge(s): Will T. Scott
Jurisdiction: Kentucky Supreme Court
Related Categories: Transportation
|Supreme Court Judge(s)|
|John Minton, Jr.|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Christopher Goode||Bubalo Hiestand & Rotman PLC|
|Kevin Sciantarelli||Bubalo Hiestand & Rotman PLC|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|David Monohan||James Thomas Blaine Lewis|
|Melanie Rughani||Mayer Brown LLP|
|Evan Tager||Mayer Brown LLP|