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AMI1803Speed of Train

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 1803
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
February 2020 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 18. Railroads
AMI 1803 Speed of Train
COMMENT
The Secretary of Transportation, pursuant to authority initially conferred by the Railroad Safety Act of 1970, 45 U.S.C.A. §§ 421–447, has issued regulations setting speed limits for all trains according to each class of track upon which they travel. 49 C.F.R. § 213.9(a). The United States Supreme Court has held, in view of 45 U.S.C.A. § 434, that such regulation preempts any inconsistent state or local regulation including that implemented by legal duties imposed by the common law. CSX Transp., Inc. v. Easterwood, 507 U.S. 658, 113 S. Ct. 1732, 123 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1993). If, therefore, a train is operating within the limit set by the Secretary of Transportation, a finding of negligence cannot be predicated upon a claim that the speed was excessive.
It would appear, therefore, that an instruction concerning the speed of the train would be appropriate only where there was substantial evidence that the train exceeded the applicable federal speed limit. In that instance, it would also be essential to establish that the excessive speed was a proximate cause of the occurrence. E.g., Harper v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., 229 Ark. 348, 314 S.W.2d 696 (1958); St. Louis–S. F. Ry. Co. v. Thurman, 213 Ark. 840, 213 S.W.2d 362 (1948).
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