Litigation Update – In Light of New Jersey Law, Third Circuit Reinstates FELA Award Holding NJ Transit No Longer Possesses Sovereign Immunity

On August 29, 2019, in Robinson v. NJ Transit, the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals found that NJ Transit was not an “arm of the state.” This occurred because, on June 26, 2019, the New Jersey General Assembly passed New Jersey P.L. 2019, c.137, named the “New Jersey Transit Corporation Employee Protection Act” (Act). The passage of the Act meant that NJ Transit could no longer assert sovereign immunity to avoid civil liability actions, including claims made by certain injured railroad workers under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).

With this determination, the Court’s January 29, 2019 decision, which overturned an $824,152.59 FELA award for Plaintiff, Quitman Robinson, was vacated and Robinson’s FELA award reinstated. TCU/IAM, along with several other unions who represent railroad workers on NJ Transit, joined this case in support of Robinson and his FELA claims. “This is a great decision for all railroad workers employed by NJ Transit,” says National President Robert Scardelletti. “FELA is an essential part of the railroad industry not only because it provides an avenue of recourse for certain injured railroad workers, but also because it acts as a vital safety check on rail carriers and how they conduct their operations as well.”

Click here to read the decision.

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