The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) holds a railroad common carrier liable for injuries sustained by employees during their course of employment. Likewise, railroad carriers are liable to an employee’s personal representative for the death of an employee during the course and scope of employment. Section 56 of FELA establishes that FELA claims can be brought in the district where: the defendant railroad resides, the action arose, or the defendant railroad conducts business. It also establishes that federal jurisdiction shall be concurrent with that of the States. Although the United States Supreme Court had previously addressed Section 56, it made clear in BNSF Railway Company v. Tyrrell6 (“BNSF”) that Section 56 is a venue statute, and state courts must comport with the Due Process Clause when asserting jurisdiction over corporations, including railroads. This note provides historical context of how Montana asserted jurisdiction over out-of-state railroad defendants and what the BNSF decision means for future FELA parties.
Molenda L. McCarty, Case Note, Getting Back on Track: BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell Clarifies FELA Jurisdiction and Venue in State Court, 79 Mont. L. Rev. 145 (2018).