Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Neil Gorsuch is the worst sort of conservative jurist: he isn't even trying to get to the just result.
On January 14, 2009, trucker Alphonse Maddin picked up a load of frozen meat in Nebraska that was to be delivered to several locations, in Wisconsin and Michigan. At about 11 p.m., while traveling through Illinois in subzero temperatures, his engine began “sputtering.” The fuel gauge had dipped below empty and he couldn’t find a gas station. (It was later determined that TransAm had misidentified the gas station’s location on the map it had provided Maddin.) Maddin pulled off the road, contacted TransAm, and was informed that the driver who had been scheduled to “switch out” with him couldn’t do so, so he’d have to continue the trek himself.
Maddin restarted the truck but discovered that the trailer’s brakes had frozen, due to the frigid temperatures. He called TransAm’s “Road Assist” unit at 11:16 p.m., and was told to wait there for a repairman.
When the truck was being driven, it used one heating system, but when the motor was off, the driver had to rely on a bunk heater run by an auxiliary power unit. Maddin’s auxiliary power unit, however, had stopped working earlier in the trip. So Maddin waited in the unheated truck. After about an hour, he fell asleep.
At 1:18 am — nearly two hours after first calling Road Assist — Maddin was awakened by a cell-phone call from his cousin. The cousin became alarmed by how Maddin sounded; he seemed to be shivering, and his speech was slurred. Maddin straightened up in the cab and noticed that his skin was “crackling” from the cold, his torso was numb, and he couldn’t feel his feet, according to the administrative review board ruling. Maddin hung up with his cousin and called TransAm’s Road Assist unit again. He was told to “hang in there.”
According to the review board opinion, Maddin “tried to follow this suggestion but became fearful of losing his feet, dying, and never seeing his family again.” After another half-hour with no relief, he called his TransAm supervisor, reporting his physical symptoms which, by then, also included trouble breathing. Maddin explained that he wanted to unhook the trailer from the cab and drive to a gas station. The supervisor ordered him, however, according to the review board decision, “to either drag the trailer with its frozen brakes or stay where he was,” warning that the company could be fined if Maddin left the trailer unattended.
Shortly after the call ended, at 2:05 a.m., Maddin detached the trailer and set off looking for the gas station, which he eventually found. Then, at 2:19 a.m. — three hours after originally reporting the frozen-brake issue — he was called by the repair truck operator, who had finally arrived. Maddin drove back to the trailer, where repairs to the brakes were completed at 3:20 a.m. A week later, Maddin was fired for having disobeyed the orders of his supervisor.
Maddin appealed, arguing that the Surface Transportation Assistance Act provides thatan employee can’t be fired if he “refuses to operate a vehicle … because the employee has a reasonable apprehension of serious injury to the employee or the public because of the vehicle’s hazardous safety or security condition.” The administrative law court and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but Judge Gorsuch dissented: "“When the statute is plain, it simply isn’t our business to appeal to legislative intentions.After all, what under the sun, at least at some level of generality, doesn’t relate to health and safety?”

Man, that is some ice-cold shit right there. You know who writes stuff like that? Asshole law students who want to show how contrarian they can be.

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