Federal Preemption Raised in Admission of Railroad Liability Expert’s Opinion on “Spillover Electricity”

A railroad conductor appealed the order of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas granting his employer, a local transportation authority’s motion for a new trial. The main point of the appeal was the admissibility of his liability expert.

On the night of his injury, Plaintiff stood in the vestibule of a railroad car holding a metallic grab iron (hand hold) attached to the wall of the car. Plaintiff said he felt a jolt of electricity surge into his hand holding the grab iron. He claimed to have suffered injuries as a result of this alleged shock. Following the incident, Defendant Transportation Authority took the railcar out of service and inspected it. After the inspection detected no defects, they returned the car to service.

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