Phelps Dunbar's representation of clients in the railroad industry spans over one century.

We represent major Class I and short line railroad companies, including one that has been a client for over 100 years, as well as the Association of American Railroads in all aspects of defense before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. The representation typically includes employee injury suits under the Federal Employers Liability Act, claims arising from grade crossing incidents and derailments, environmental contamination spills, mass torts, class actions and toxic torts, premises liability claims, employment issues, freight loss/delay claims, commercial/coverage disputes, property rights, ownership disputes, preemption, injunctive proceedings and environmental compliance orders.

Our firm serves as statewide counsel in Louisiana and Texas for repetitive trauma cases, such as hearing loss and carpal tunnel syndrome, and for toxic exposure cases arising out of alleged exposure to asbestos and fumes. For many years, we have counseled railroad clients on environmental regulatory issues.

Our significant history of defending railroad clients in personal injury cases has allowed our attorneys to gain experience in nearly every area of personal injury defense. We are prepared to handle any type of personal injury case - for example injuries to knees, backs, shoulders, necks and elbows - to the most complicated and involved brain and neurological damage cases, including highly scientific toxic exposure claims. Our railroad attorneys are regular contributors to the continuing education of railroad trial counsel and the railroad industry across the country, including the Executive Committee of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel.

Our enduring railroad practice has facilitated the development of valuable resources, superior data bases and research tools. This commitment to the latest technological innovations allowed us to create, at a very early date, expert witness databases, deposition repositories and information management systems that are now mature and well established. Our attorneys have immediate access to valuable information and excellent resources for any railroad related action. This technology greatly enhances our ability to efficiently serve the interests of our railroad clients.


Some representative matters that we have handled on behalf of railroads include:

  • Working with trial counsel, we wrote the brief and handled the oral argument in the Louisiana Supreme Court in a crossing case leading to the most recent comprehensive pronouncement by the Louisiana Supreme Court on the law governing the responsibilities of motorists and railroad companies.
  • Putative nationwide class action brought by all operations department employees who ever worked for major railroads operating in the State of Louisiana, claiming damages as a result of alleged exposure to toxic chemicals.
  • We are currently handling mass toxic tort litigation in which there are thousands of claimants suing our railroad clients for exposure to alleged toxic substances and public nuisances. The claimants range from employees and former employees to entire residential neighborhoods.
  • In 1999, we were successful in securing a landmark opinion from the Texas Supreme Court regarding venue in Texas. We handled the venue litigation at the district courts, through several courts of appeals and at the Texas Supreme Court. The winning opinion was the first in Texas to interpret and clarify the 1997 venue statute and now places limitations on where a railroad, and other corporations doing business in Texas, can be sued.