Gonzalez v. Union Pacific RR. Co.Annotate this Case
Thirteen-year-old Efrain Ramos-Domingo was killed by a Union Pacific Railroad Company train. Two days later, Efrain's mother, Manuela Gonzalez signed a document releasing Union Pacific from liability for Efrain's death in exchange for $15,000. Manuela later filed a complaint in district court for wrongful death and breach of fiduciary duty. Union Pacific filed a motion to dismiss Manuela's complaint, arguing that the release barred Manuela's claims. The district court sustained the motion to dismiss with respect to the wrongful death claim but overruled the motion with respect to the fiduciary duty claim. The district court then granted Union Pacific's motion for summary judgment on the remaining claim, finding that there was no fiduciary duty owed by Union Pacific to Manuela. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court erred in dismissing Manuela's wrongful death claim because Manuela alleged facts that, if proved, could demonstrate that the release was void on the basis of its failure to represent a binding mutual understanding of the parties or was voidable as the product of fraud, overreaching or duress; and (2) the district court correctly concluded that Union Pacific owed no fiduciary duty to Manuela. Remanded.