Kevin M. Winder, Appellant,
Union Pacific Railroad Company, A Delaware Corporation, Appellee.
Federal Acts: Railroads: Claims: Courts. In disposing of a
claim controlled by the Federal Employers' Liability Act,
a state court may use procedural rules applicable to civil
actions in the state court unless otherwise directed by the
act, but substantive issues concerning a claim under the act
are determined by the provisions of the act and interpretive
decisions of the federal courts construing the act.
Directed Verdict: Appeal and Error. In reviewing a trial
court's ruling on a motion for directed verdict, an
appellate court must treat the motion as an admission of the
truth of all competent evidence submitted on behalf of the
party against whom the motion is directed; such being the
case, the party against whom the motion is directed is
entitled to have every controverted fact resolved in its
favor and to have the benefit of every inference which can
reasonably be deduced from the evidence.
Directed Verdict: Evidence. A directed verdict is proper at
the close of all the evidence only when reasonable minds
cannot differ and can draw but one conclusion from the
evidence, that is, when an issue should be decided as a
matter of law.
Federal Acts: Railroads: Liability. Under 49 U.S.C. §
20302(a)(1)(B) (2012) of the federal Safety Appliance Acts, a
railroad carrier may use a vehicle, including a railcar, only
if it is equipped with efficient handbrakes.
Federal Acts: Railroads: Negligence: Proof. Under 49 U.S.C.
§ 20302(a)(1)(B) (2012) of the federal Safety Appliance
Acts, there are two ways an employee may show the
inefficiency of handbrakes: (1) Evidence may be adduced to
establish some particular defect in the handbrake or (2)
inefficiency may be established by showing the [296 Neb. 558]
handbrake failed to function, when operated with due care, in
the normal, natural, and usual manner.
Federal Acts: Railroads: Negligence: Words and Phrases. For
purposes of 49 U.S.C. § 20302(a)(1)(B) (2012) of the
federal Safety Appliance Acts, "efficient" means
adequate in performance and producing properly a desired
effect. "Inefficient" means not producing or not
capable of producing the desired effect and thus incapable,
incompetent, or inadequate.
Federal Acts: Railroads: Negligence. When there is
conflicting evidence regarding whether a handbrake failed to
function, when operated with due care, in the normal,
natural, and usual manner, the question of inefficiency under
49 U.S.C. § 20302(a)(1)(B) (2012) of the federal Safety
Appliance Acts is one for the jury.
from the District Court for Douglas County: Kimberly Miller
Pankonin and Peter C. Bataillon, Judges.
William Kvas and Richard L. Carlson, of Hunegs, LeNeave &
Kvas, P.A., and Jayson D. Nelson for appellant.
Marie O'Brien and Daniel J. Hassing, of Lamson, Dugan
& Murray, L.L.P., and Andrew Reinhart for appellee.
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch, and Funke, JJ.
M. Winder filed an action for damages against his employer,
Union Pacific Railroad Company (UP), alleging he injured his
back while turning a wheel to release the handbrake on a
railcar. Winder asserted claims under the Federal
Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and the federal Safety
Appliance Acts (FSAA). The jury returned a general verdict in
favor of UP, and Winder appeals. We affirm.
Neb. 559] FACTS
October 28, 2012, Winder was working as a conductor for UP in
North Platte, Nebraska. Part of his job was to manually
release the handbrakes on railcars. Handbrakes are used to
secure railcars to the track when a train is not in motion.
The handbrake is manually applied by using a brake wheel and
turning it clockwise. The handbrake is manually released one
of two ways: by either turning the brake wheel
counterclockwise or using a quick-release lever. Not all
handbrakes have quick-release levers, but the ones Winder was
releasing did. Winder testified he was trained "to first
try the quick release lever [and] [i]f that does not work,
then you turn the wheel."
successfully released the handbrake on the first railcar.
When he attempted to use the quick-release lever on the next
railcar, the lever pulled easily but the brake did not
release. Winder then began turning the wheel in a
counterclockwise direction to release the brake. According to
Winder, as he did so, he suddenly felt a sharp pain in his
back and stopped working.
immediately notified UP of his injury, and he sought medical
attention. He received significant treatment, including