New Attorney General Opinion on Railroad Crossings

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has issued an Opinion that provides that "Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-12-108 does not require a train engine operator to blow a train’s whistle or horn before crossing a private drive.  Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-12-108 only requires that a train engine operator blow a whistle or horn at public railway crossings."

The Opinion references a recent decision from the federal court in East Tennessee:

In Artrip v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company, No. 2:08-CV-200, 2009 WL 152482
(E.D. Tenn. Jan. 22, 2009), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee relied on Tennessee state law in holding that there is no requirement for a train engineer to sound a whistle when approaching a private railroad crossing. In Artrip, the plaintiff brought a claim against Norfolk Southern Railway Company after the decedent was struck and killed at a private railroad crossing in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Id. at *1. The plaintiff alleged that the train operator’s failure to sound a whistle warning before crossing the private drive was an act of negligence. Id. at *3. However, the District Court found no merit in plaintiff’s allegations of negligence, concluding that “although the locomotive did not blow its whistle, there was no requirement that it do so at a private crossing.” Id. at *13 (citing 49 C.F.R. § 222.25 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-12-108(1)). Summary judgment was granted in favor of the train operator, and the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed. Id. at *15.

Obviously, the Attorney General agreed with the decision of the federal judge. Read Opinion 09-161 here.

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