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Employer liable in parking lot injury: Court

Posted On: Dec. 15, 2009 12:00 AM CST

LINCOLN, Neb.—Union Pacific Railroad Co. is liable under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act for a conductor injured while walking from a company-owned parking lot to an office where he was to report for work, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled.

The ruling was handed down Friday in Glenn T. Holsapple Jr. vs. Union Pacific Railroad Co., a case that stemmed from a knee injury Mr. Holsapple suffered in 2006 after stepping into a hole while walking through a city-owned alleyway linking the parking lot and the office.

Mr. Holsapple sued Union Pacific for damages under the FELA, alleging negligence and that he was injured while performing “a duty necessarily incident to his employment,” court records state.

But a district court granted the railroad’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Mr. Holsapple’s injury occurred before he was to report to work and was outside the scope of his employment.

The Supreme Court overturned the lower court, ruling that Mr. Holsapple was injured within close proximity to the office and the injury occurred as a necessary incident of his workday. The high court also said he was exposed to risks not shared by the general public, because Union Pacific strategically placed signs restricting the alleyway’s use to railroad employees.

“And in doing so, Union Pacific has effectively encouraged its employees to use the alleyway,” the court said.

It remanded the case for further proceedings.