Helping Manage Every Aspect of Rail, Transportation & Public Utility Law
With more than a century commitment to counseling Pennsylvania’s Rail and related Transportation industries on matters such as litigation, public utility law and real estate, the attorneys at Nauman Smith have been long recognized as authorities in this vital practice area.
The core of our representation centers on the rail industry, both Class I and short line railroads, where Nauman Smith has been involved in every major area of rail litigation and regulatory activity. Nauman Smith has continuously represented railroads since the firm’s beginnings in the 1870s.
Public Utility Law
In rail-highway crossing and related matters, in which the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) has regulatory jurisdiction, our attorneys have represented clients in:
- complex crossing abolition proceedings
- bridge and at-grade crossing reconstruction
- repair proceedings
- application proceedings initiated by governmental entities to establish new at-grade crossings
We advise clients on complex PUC proceedings, which often implicate operational as well as safety matters. Frequently cases, which begin before the PUC, require representation in other Courts on related aspects including:
- federal injunction actions
- state court proceedings to enforce contracts
- Board of View proceedings in condemnation actions by PennDOT
- rail line abandonment proceedings before the federal Surface Transportation Board
Key cases include:
- Successfully represented a railroad in a case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirming that contract rights are preserved between the parties even when the PUC orders payment in the first instance for rail-highway crossing work contrary to the contract. Consolidated Rail Corporation v. City of Harrisburg and the Harrisburg Authority, 842 A.2d 369
(Pa. Supreme Ct.).
- Successfully represented a railroad in a case establishing that the PUC is without authority to allocate costs to a railroad possessing only operating rights at a rail-highway crossing. City of Chester v. Pa. Public Utility Comm’n, 798 A.2d 288 (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct.).
- Represented Class I Railroads and the Keystone State Railroad Association in rulemaking and streamlining proceedings in the Public Utility Commission.
- Prevented the establishment of a new at-grade crossing in York County on the basis that creation of a new at-grade crossing in close proximity to two separated-grade crossings would not promote public safety. Application of Springettsbury Township, 2009 WL 3159625 (Pa. PUC).
- Successfully represented railroads in numerous rail crossing abolition and reconstruction cases, minimizing client work and cost responsibilities.
Nauman Smith attorneys also represent Class I, regional and shortline railroads in all types of litigation, including:
- employee claims under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA)
- crossing accidents
- trespasser and property damage suits.
We have represented clients in the trial courts of approximately 26 counties in Pennsylvania and successfully argued cases on behalf of the rail industry before the Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania, as well as the Middle and Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Key cases include:
- Successful representation of a Class I
railroad in a unanimous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reaffirming the occupied crossing rule as a complete bar to recovery and finding for the first time Pennsylvania’s blocked crossing statute pre-empted under Federal Rail Safety Act. Krentz v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 910 A.2d 20 (Pa. Supreme Ct.).
- Successfully represented a Class I
railroad in obtaining judgment as a matter of law at trial in a FELA case affirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Castro v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 46 F. 3d 1115 (3rd Cir.).
- Successfully represented a Class I
railroad in summary judgment of a trespasser rendered a paraplegic. Barry v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 1999 WL 554598 (E.D. Pa.)
- Represented a Class I
railroad against the City of Philadelphia in a contract dispute in federal court over park access rights that led to a favorable negotiated settlement for the railroad.
- Numerous defense verdicts in crossing accident wrongful death cases.
Joshua D. Bonn
Josh Bonn is a trial attorney who represents clients in the railroad, automotive, media, insurance and financial industries. He also advises several mid-state municipalities and is the Solicitor for the Capital Tax Collection Bureau. He formerly worked as an assistant district attorney in York County, Pennsylvania. Josh has a Distinguished™ rating from Martindale-Hubbell…
Benjamin C. Dunlap, Jr.
Benjamin C. Dunlap, Jr. brings considerable experience to his practice, concentrating in business and employment law for companies ranging in size from startups to major national corporations and nonprofits as well as public utility and related work for railroad clients…
J. Stephen Feinour
Steve Feinour represents large and small companies, non-profit organizations and individuals in business, real estate and litigation matters, including business acquisitions and sales. He advises business owners on succession planning as well as wealth and asset preservation…
Craig J. Staudenmaier
Craig Staudenmaier has built a reputation as an authority on Right to Know and Media Law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is at the forefront of issues and landmark cases stemming from the state’s open records and meetings laws…