Smith v. Rail Link, Inc., et al, No. 11-8011 (10th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff-Appellant Bridget Smith worked for Rail Link, Inc. (Rail Link) as a freight operator in Wyoming. She was injured on the job, and subsequently sued Rail Link and its corporate parent Genessee & Wyoming, Inc. (GWI) in federal district court, asserting that the companies were liable for her injuries under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The Defendants moved for summary judgment, contending that they were not subject to FELA liability for Plaintiff's injuries because FELA only applies where a defendant is the injured worker's employer and is a common carrier. Rail Link argued it was a not a common carrier, and GWI argued it was neither a common carrier nor Plaintiff's Smith's employer. The district court agreed granted summary judgment for both Defendants. Upon appeal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed: "[t]he concept of employment under FELA is a broad one, but to show an employment relationship a plaintiff still must offer some evidence that physical conduct was or could have been controlled by an alleged employer. The record here is lacking in [that] regard, compelling a ruling in GWI's favor."