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REID v. NORFOLK AND WESTERN RY. CO.

June 13, 1997

CHARLES REID, A MINOR BY LINDELL REID, HIS FATHER AND NEXT FRIEND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NORFOLK AND WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY, A VIRGINIA COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge.

  OPINION

General rule: A railroad company owes no duty to a trespasser except to refrain from inflicting wanton or willful injury.

Exception: A railroad company must use ordinary care toward those who are frequent trespassers in a limited area upon the railroad company's property where the railroad company knows — or should know — of the trespassers' constant intrusion.

Is a city block a "limited area" for purposes of the permissive use exception?

No.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 4, 1995, between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m., Plaintiff was walking in the vicinity of the railroad tracks located in the 2200 block of South Sixth Street in Springfield, Illinois.*fn1 During that same time period, Defendant, through its employees, was operating a freight train in an easterly direction along that same stretch of railroad tracks.*fn2 Tragically, Defendant's freight train struck Plaintiff as he was walking in the vicinity of the railroad tracks.

Plaintiff asserts that Defendant is liable for the injuries which he sustained as a result of the accident. In Count I of his second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff argues that Defendant's operation of its freight train was negligent and that this negligence was a direct and proximate cause of his injuries. In Count II of his second Amended Complaint, Plaintiff argues that Defendant willfully and wantonly operated its freight train with a reckless disregard for Plaintiff's safety. Thus, Plaintiff seeks compensation for the damages which he sustained as a result of this accident.

II. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 56(c); see Ruiz-Rivera v. Moyer, 70 F.3d 498, 500-01 (7th Cir. 1995). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the Court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party must come forward with specific evidence, not mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, which demonstrates that there is a genuine issue for trial. Howland v. Kilquist 833 F.2d 639 (7th Cir. 1987).

III. ANALYSIS*fn3

A. COUNT I

Count I of Plaintiff's second Amended Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was injured as a result of Defendant's negligence. In Illinois, in order to state a cause of action for negligence, a plaintiff must establish the existence of a duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, a breach of that duty, an injury proximately caused by the breach, and damages suffered by the plaintiff. Ward v. K Mart Corp. 136 Ill.2d 132, 140, 554 N.E.2d 223, 226, 143 Ill.Dec. 288, 291 ...


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