Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Deweese v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

December 22, 2009

RICHARD DEWEESE
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION (AMTRAK); SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY; COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, APPELLANT



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 06-cv-4455) District Judge: Honorable Thomas J. Rueter.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jordan, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued November 2, 2009

Before: SCIRICA, Chief Judge, JORDAN and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority ("SEPTA") appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting summary judgment to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak") on its cross-claim against SEPTA. The District Court determined that SEPTA's state-law sovereign immunity defense is preempted by Amtrak's federal enabling statute and that an indemnity contract between SEPTA and Amtrak is therefore enforceable. For the following reasons, we will affirm.

I. Background

A. The Accident

This dispute arises out of an accident on October 28, 2004, in which plaintiff Richard Deweese was struck by an Amtrak train. The day of the accident, Deweese was waiting for a Philadelphia-bound SEPTA train at the Crum Lynne, Pennsylvania train station, which is adjacent to tracks used by both Amtrak and SEPTA. Someone at the station told Deweese that the platform from which to board the Philadelphia-bound trains was located on the opposite side of the tracks. Rather than using the stairs available to him to safely cross to the other side, Deweese took it upon himself to descend from the platform and walk directly across the tracks. While doing so, he was struck by an oncoming Amtrak train. Deweese filed suit in state court against Amtrak, SEPTA, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to recover damages resulting from injuries he sustained as a result of the accident. Amtrak removed the action to federal court, and the Commonwealth was subsequently dismissed as a defendant. Prior to trial, Deweese settled his claims with SEPTA and Amtrak for $200,000, with each defendant paying Deweese $100,000.*fn1 The settlement left unresolved Amtrak's cross-claim against SEPTA for contractual indemnity, which was based on two separate indemnity agreements between Amtrak and SEPTA.

B. The Indemnity Agreements

Amtrak owns the Crum Lynne train station as well as the adjacent tracks. SEPTA leases the station from Amtrak pursuant to a 1987 agreement entitled "Lease Agreement between National Railroad Passenger Corporation and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Covering 47 Commuter Stations in southeastern Pennsylvania" (the "Lease Agreement"). The Crum Lynne station is serviced exclusively by SEPTA, although SEPTA shares use of the railroad tracks with Amtrak pursuant to a 1982 agreement called the "Agreement between National Railroad Passenger Corporation and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for Northeast Corridor Access and Services" (the "NEC Agreement").

Both the Lease Agreement and the NEC Agreement contain indemnity provisions. Section 5 of the NEC Agreement includes a "Risk of Liability" clause stating that,

SEPTA agrees to indemnify and save harmless Amtrak, its officers, agents, employees, and subsidiaries, irrespective of any fault of Amtrak or such persons, for all damage or for liability for personal injury or property damage which would not have been incurred but for the existence of the commuter service provided for SEPTA ... .

(App. at A155.) The Lease Agreement contains similar language.*fn2

Relying on both the Lease Agreement and the NEC Agreement, Amtrak, as already noted, filed a cross-claim*fn3 against SEPTA in the lawsuit that Deweese brought. Amtrak's claim, consistent throughout this litigation, is that SEPTA is obligated to indemnify Amtrak for its settlement payment to Deweese. SEPTA responded by asserting sovereign immunity, stating in its reply to the cross-claim that "[a]ny obligations on SEPTA's part under the applicable [L]ease [A]greement and [NEC Agreement] to indemnify, save and hold harmless AMTRAK from plaintiff's claims are limited, restricted, and conditioned by, and subject to, SEPTA's immunity as a Commonwealth party ... ." (App. at A29.)

Amtrak and SEPTA both moved for summary judgment. SEPTA argued in its summary judgment motion that, despite its clear contractual indemnity obligation to Amtrak under the NEC Agreement,*fn4 it is barred from indemnifying Amtrak because of the sovereign immunity conferred upon it by Pennsylvania state statute, 1 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2310 and 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 8521-25.*fn5 SEPTA conceded that, were it not for its state-law sovereign immunity ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.