Since the firm’s beginnings, Nauman Smith has achieved significant results for the railroad industry before state and federal courts and the Public Utility Commission involving such diverse matters as railroad infrastructure, liability in crossing, lading and passenger matters and labor/employee relations. Two definitive 1880 cases that helped shape the rail industry in Pennsylvania include Duncan v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company and Hall v. Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
Duncan involved 19th century urban infrastructure development in the City of Philadelphia. Firm attorneys successfully persuaded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to establish the railroad’s right to construct branch lines on purchased railroad. The matter involved the construction of a bridge across the Schuylkill River, where JFK Boulevard is now located, to a station at Fifteenth Street.
The Hall case involved striking railroad employees in Pittsburgh, who started a fire that destroyed a shipper’s goods. The United States District Court held that the railroad could not be held liable for the actions of a lawless mob, so exception to liability applied.