Cases & Deals

Union Pacific obtains complete dismissal of employment class action

Client(s) Union Pacific Railroad

On behalf of Union Pacific Railroad Company, Jones Day obtained dismissal of a class action lawsuit alleging that Union Pacific had violated California Labor Code Section 604, which limits the hours worked by train dispatchers. Originally filed in state court, the case was removed pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"). Union Pacific then moved to dismiss the claims as preempted by the Federal Railroad Safety Act ("FRSA"). At the same time, Plaintiff moved to remand arguing that the "local controversy" exception to CAFA jurisdiction applied because he had named California employees of Union Pacific as defendants.

The Court denied Plaintiff's motion to remand, agreeing with Union Pacific’s argument that the claims against the California employees did not transform the case into a "local controversy" pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(d)(4)(A). The Court then relied on an exception to FRSA preemption--not argued by the Plaintiff--and denied the motion to dismiss on the basis that Union Pacific had not addressed this possible exception to preemption. In particular, the Court ruled that it was possible the California law could be intended to address a "local safety or security hazard."

Union Pacific thereafter filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, explaining the local hazard exception to preemption does not, by definition, apply to statutes that are statewide in nature. The Court agreed and granted the motion on November 18, 2015, dismissing the lawsuit in its entirety.

Christmas v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., Case No. 2:15-cv-02612 (C.D. Cal., 2015)