Shreveport, LA – March 30, 2010 – Bob Wise and Andy Szygenda of Lillard Wise Szygenda PLLC have obtained a $2.5 million summary judgment for Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCS) on an indemnity claim against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation. Judge Maurice Hicks of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana issued the award yesterday afternoon.
KCS sued Pilgrim’s for breach of a contractual indemnity when Pilgrim’s refused to reimburse KCS for a $2.25 million settlement and defense costs that KCS incurred in settling a lawsuit brought by Levi Davis, Jr. Davis was severely injured in 2004 when his UPS truck was hit by a KCS train at a railroad crossing near a Pilgrim’s feed mill, located on land leased from KCS. Davis contended that the accident resulted from the distracting placement of railcars on sidetracks that served the mill, poor road conditions at the intersection, and the absence of signage indicating the presence of multiple tracks at the intersection, among other reasons.
KCS demanded indemnification from Pilgrim’s for the settlement amount and defense costs of the Davis suit pursuant to two track agreements that required Pilgrim’s to indemnify KCS for claims and liability “arising from, related to, or happening in connection with” Pilgrim’s use of the feed mill or side tracks. KCS reasoned that but for Pilgrim’s use of the sidetracks, none of Davis’s colorable claims could have existed. Pilgrim’s refused the railway’s indemnification request, and KCS sued. Pilgrim’s then filed counterclaims for spoliation and abuse of process.
After months of discovery, Pilgrim’s, represented by McKool Smith, and KCS, represented by Messrs. Wise and Szygenda, filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the indemnity claim, and KCS moved for summary judgment on Pilgrim’s counterclaims. In an opinion and order issued last week, Judge Hicks agreed with the arguments asserted by Wise and Szygenda and awarded KCS roughly $2.5 million dollars. In a separate opinion and order issued today, the Court dismissed with prejudice Pilgrim’s counterclaims. See Kan. City So. Ry. v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30260 (W.D. La. March 29, 2010).