“Over the decades, our attorneys have established important precedents impacting rail infrastructure, liability and labor – employment issues.” Attorney Dunlap noted.

(Harrisburg, PA) — Nauman Smith Shissler & Hall will celebrate its 130th year of service to the Pennsylvania railroad industry this year, Craig Staudenmaier, Managing Partner of the firm announced today. “We are exceptionally proud of the firm’s historic record of service to the railroad industry,” Staudenmaier said. “It is certainly gratifying to look back and see how our attorneys over two centuries have helped shaped the industry in Pennsylvania, a true “Keystone Corridor” system of Class I and short line railroads.”

Nauman Smith was founded in Harrisburg in 1871, but began its rail practice in earnest with two definitive 1880 cases, Duncan v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co. and Hall v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co.

Duncan involved 19th century urban infrastructure development in the City of Philadelphia.  The outcome permitted the Pennsylvania Railroad to build a bridge across the Schuylkill River and on elevated tracks to connect its lines with a rail station at Fifteenth Street in the City.  One judge in the case wrote that “this case involves interests of very great magnitude, and may become a precedent of importance with regard to future litigation.”

The Hall case involved striking railroad employees in Pittsburgh, who started a fire that destroyed a shipper’s goods.  The firm’s attorneys successfully argued to a federal district court that the railroad could not be held accountable for the actions of a lawless mob, and the railroad was held not to be liable for the cost of the destroyed goods.

“We have been involved in a series of similar landmark cases over the years,” Benjamin Dunlap, the firm’s Rail & Transportation Law Practice Group Chair, said.  The firm has been active in every major area of rail litigation and regulatory development as railroad and transportation law progressed historically to the present day.”

Dunlap pointed to recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions of importance to the industry that were achieved by Nauman Smith.  One reaffirmed the occupied crossing rule as a complete bar to recovery (2006), and another affirmed that contract rights are preserved between the parties even when the PUC orders payment for rail-highway crossing work contrary to a contract (2004).

“Over the decades, our attorneys have tried cases and established important precedents impacting rail infrastructure, liability and labor-employment issues,” Dunlap noted. “We have continuously represented our rail clients in a wide variety of  complex issues and proceedings before state and federal courts and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.”

Nauman Smith will officially celebrate its 130th Year of Service to the Pennsylvania Railroad Industry at the upcoming 2010 Keystone State Railroad Association’s Pennsylvania Rail Freight Seminar with a special reception at the Harrisburg Hilton on the evening of May 19, 2010.  For further information about this very special event, please contact Joe Gerdes, Executive Director.