9) Other courts have imposed strict liability on rail carriers for accidents, openly acknowledging the carriers were not negligent, but holding nonetheless that the rail transportation of hazardous materials was precisely the type of ultrahazardous activity strict liability theories were developed to address.
Thus, these courts have classified hazardous materials transport as an ultrahazardous activity to which the common law defense does not apply.
Courts rejecting the common carrier defense in strict liability actions have done so partly on the premise that rail transportation of hazardous materials is an ultrahazardous activity and that imposing strict liability provides some economic benefit to society by spreading losses among the general public.
In short, then, the correct answer to the second of this Note's two principal questions--whether a rail carrier should be fully liable for damages in a TIH accident--depends not so much on what legal precedents are available, but instead on a factual determination of whether rail carriers actually derive any benefits from the transportation of TIH materials, whether the transportation of TIH materials is really an ultrahazardous activity, and on the nature of the materials themselves.
Another reason the historical approach to hazardous materials accidents is inappropriate for TIH accidents is that, all things considered, the raft transportation of TIH freight--or any other cargo, for that matter--is not really an ultrahazardous activity.
We apply it when the defendant is engaged in an ultrahazardous activity.
In January 1995, relatives of people killed or hurt by handguns sued 49 firearms manufacturers in federal court, alleging negligent marketing, design defect, ultrahazardous activity
, and fraud.