Friday, December 4, 2015

SCOTUS: Injured Plaintiff Cannot Sue Austrian Railroad Company in American Court For Injuries Occuring in Austria

By April Oboikowitch
Law Clerk, Illinois Appellate Court, First District

The Association’s upcoming January luncheon will feature Adam Liptak, the renowned New York Times journalist who covers the United States Supreme Court. In his most recent article, Liptak noted that the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a California woman injured in a train accident in Austria cannot sue in an American court. The woman lost her legs after trying to board a moving train in Innsbruck. She argued that she should be allowed to sue the railroad in federal court in California because she bought her Eurail pass on the Internet while located in the United States from a travel agent in Massachusetts.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, writing for the Court, stated that the crucial events all took place in Austria. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, allowed the woman to proceed based on the fact that she purchased the Eurail pass in the United States. The Supreme Court disagreed, noting that “the conduct constituting the gravamen of [the woman’s] suit plainly occurred abroad.” The Court found that there was nothing wrongful about the sale of the Eurail pass standing alone. This case, which was the first one argued this term, resulted in a unanimous decision by the Court. The case is OBB Personenverkehr A.G. v. Sachs, No. 13-1067, and can be accessed here.

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