Bush Administration Uses Midnight Regulations to Give Railroads Corporate Immunity Handout

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Bush Administration Uses Midnight Regulations to Give Railroads Corporate Immunity Handout 

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2008

Contact: Jennifer Fuson
202.965.3500,ext. 8369

Bush Administration Uses Midnight Regulations to Give Railroads Corporate Immunity Handout

AAJ Warns of Additional Regulations That Could Limit Consumers’ Rights

Washington, DC— Confirming American Association for Justice’s concern about midnight regulations, the Bush Administration rammed through a final rule that could give railroad corporations complete immunity from lawsuits. In a rule that should have enhanced the safety of passengers and others impacted by railways, the Transportations Safety Administration (TSA) inserted boilerplate preemption language which instead attempts to limit the ability of states to protect their residents. 

Finally, TSA has left the day of enactment at 30 days—December 26, 2008, not the usual 60 days to ensure the rule is in effect when President–elect Obama takes office.  This will make it much harder for the next administration to make any changes.

“The Bush Administration is using every opportunity in these last few days to give early Christmas presents to corporations in the form of complete immunity from lawsuits,” said American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod.  “This is just one more regulation that could serve up complete immunity under the guise of safety.”

Just last year, Congress expressed the exact opposite view of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), making it clear that state claims should not be preempted. In Minot, North Dakota, a hazardous train derailment spewed an ammonia toxic cloud across the entire city.  In response, Congress passed legislation which clearly stated that the Federal Railroad Safety Act was never intended to preempt state tort claims and that victims of Minot could receive justice.

This latest midnight regulation flies in the face of this legislation to ensure railroads are held accountable for hazardous train derailments.

AAJ included this regulation in a list of 21 possible regulations to keep an eye out for that could be devastating to consumers’ safety.  To see a list of the regulations AAJ is following that have yet to be finalized, click here.

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