Southern Pacific Railroad History Center


Law Department

The law department, which includes the general claims department and the tax department, is charged with the responsibility of handling Southern Pacific’s legal, legislative, personal injury claims, and tax matters.  The law department’s headquarters are in San Francisco, with offices in Los Angeles, California, Sacramento, California, Houston, Texas, Dallas, Texas and Washington, D.C.   Southern Pacific is also represented by private law firms in the states in which it operates and elsewhere. These firms handle primarily personal injury and property damage cases and other local law matters under the direction of the law department.  The law department handles all aspects of legal work for Southern Pacific all its subsidiaries, including the major fields of commerce, taxation, securities, labor, finance, communications, personal injury, freight damage, real estate, contracts, and legislation.

The general claims department is under the immediate direction of the general claims manager. It handles the investigation of all accidents, the adjustment of claims arising therefrom (other than freight loss and damage claims) and assists in the preparation and presentation of personal injury litigation.  In this latter area, it works with the trial attorneys in the law department who handle these cases as well as with the members of outside firms retained by Southern Pacific to handle such cases. The claims department has personnel located in various offices throughout the System, with principal supervisory offices in San Francisco, Houston, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.

The tax department is headed by a general tax commissioner.  Its headquarters is in San Francisco, with offices in Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, Reno, Nevada, Phoenix, Arizona, El Paso, Texas, and Houston. The Tax Department’s function is to see that the ad valorem and sales taxes are properly assessed and paid and to protect the Company interests.  With respect to such matters, the general tax commissioner has additional responsibility in the fields of community relations and civic affairs.

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