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The ruling benefits the insurer in a fatal railway crossing accident



A federal appellate court ruled Friday in favor of an insurer in litigation resulting from a railroad crossing accident that killed a truck driver.

Bobby Jenkins was driving a semi-truck and pulling a dump truck owned by his company, Greenberg, Louisiana-based BJ Trucking Earthmover LLC, when he tried to cross a railroad crossing in October 2018 in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, according to court papers in Progressive Paloverde Insurance Co. v. BJ Trucking Earthmover, LLC.

Mr Jenkins neither stopped nor slowed down as he crossed the train track, the verdict said. The train’s engineer hit the spout of the train and put in the emergency brake, but Mr. Jenkins drove into the intersection where he was hit and killed.

Among the issues in the subsequent complex lawsuit was whether Mr Jenkins was an employee or independent contractor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Heck Industries Inc., for which he transported sand, and whether Mr Jenkins̵

7; insurer, Progressive Holdings Inc.’s Progressive Paloverde Insurance, was obliged to defend and replace Heck, who was a named insured on the progressive insurance.

The U.S. District Court in New Orleans ruled that Heck was an independent contractor and that Progressive did not need to provide coverage during an insurance foreclosure.

An appellate court with three judges confirmed the lower court. “We agree with the district court that Jenkins was not Heck’s employee. Heck is therefore not responsible for Jenkins’ actions, “said the panel, which also agreed with the lower court that the only cause of the collision was Mr Jenkins and BJ Trucking’s negligence.

The court also ruled that Progressive did not need to defend or indemnify Heck because of an exclusion without trucking, which blocked coverage for loaded property.

“The exclusion of non-trucking applies because Jenkins unquestionably transported property at the point of collision,” the panel said.

Lawyers in the case did not respond to a request for comment.


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