Legal Memorandum: Concurrent Jurisdiction over FELA Claims

Issue: Where does jurisdiction lie in a Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) case in Nebraska arising out of personal injuries suffered in a fall while the employee was ’employed’ by a Railroad Company within the meaning of 45 U.S.C. 51?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Concurrent jurisdiction over claims controlled by FEL; Summary judgment
Jurisdiction: Federal, Nebraska
Cited Cases: 591 N.W.2d 524; 467 N.W.2d 388; 585 N.W.2d 115; 258 Neb. 703; 237 Neb. 617
Cited Statutes: 45 U.S.C. 51
Date: 11/01/2000

Federal and state courts have concurrent jurisdiction over claims controlled by FELA.  Chapman v. Union Pac. R.R., 237 Neb. 617, 467 N.W.2d 388 (1991).  When deciding a FELA claim, the state court may use its own procedural rules although substantive issues are determined by the provisions of FELA itself and federal court decisions construing it. Crafton v. Union Pac. R.R., 7 Neb. App. 793, 797-98, 585 N.W.2d 115, 121 (1998), review overruled (Neb. Jan. 13, 1999).

Whether a party in a FELA case is entitled to summary judgment in an action brought in Nebraska state court is determined by Nebraska law.  Id.  In Nebraska, summary judgment is proper only when the pleadings, depositions, admissions, stipulations and affidavits in the record disclose that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact or as to the ultimate inferences that may be drawn from those facts and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  Fossett v. Board of Regents, 258 Neb. 703, 706, 605 N.W.2d 465, 468 (2000).  On summary judgment the question to be resolved is not how a fact issue should be decided but rather, whether any real fact issue exists at all.  Id. 

Summary judgment is an extreme remedy, sometimes called “a procedural equivalent to a trial.”  Id.  Thus, in reviewing an order of summary judgment, the appellate court views the evidence in a light most favorable to the […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)