On July 19, 2012, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals entered its majority opinion in The Kansas City Southern Railway Company v. Oney (No. 14-11-00815-CV), affirming the Texas Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) Court’s determination that the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) preempts the report requirement under Chapter 90 (Asbestos) of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. The Appellee, Ronald K. Oney, is represented by Sammons & Berry, P.C., and J. Kirkland Sammons handled the appeal on behalf of the firm.
Enacted by Congress in 1908, the FELA was intended to enable injured railroad workers (or in the case of death, their families) to file suit and recover damages against their employers. In 2005, the Texas Legislature enacted Chapter 90 which significantly restricted injured workers rights to file suit to recover damages resulting from occupational exposure to asbestos. Although Chapter 90 was enacted as a state law, KCS argued that it should apply to bar claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act as well. Judge Mark Davidson, the Texas MDL judge rejected KCS’ argument and entered an order stating that in cases that arise under the FELA, Plaintiffs are not required to file expert reports complying with the Chapter 90 requirements. KCS appealed Judge Davidson’s order. On appeal, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals found against KCS and affirmed Judge Davidson’s order. This opinion marks a huge victory for railroad workers injured as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. A copy of Judge Davidson’s original order and the Majority Opinion from the Fourteenth Court of Appeals are available below: