In recent years, railroads have seen an influx of claimrs by employees under the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C 51, alleging injuries attributable to years of walking on mainline ballast. Railroads have consistently taken the position that such claims are preempted or precluded by the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA), 49 U.S.C. 20101, but have received mixed results. On March 18, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Nickels v.
“Safety first!” is a slogan attributed to a railroader of a bygone era. Throughout the history of rail transportation, safety always has been a concern for the industry, as well as the government. However, it was not until 1970, more than 140 years after the nation's first railroad was chartered, that Congress passed the first comprehensive railroad safety law. The Federal Railroad Safety Act (“FRSA”) establishes uniform national safety standards for railroads to abide by. In