125 F.3d 481 (7th Cir. 1997), 96-3842, Soo Line R. Co. v. St. Louis Southwestern Ry. Co.

Docket Nº:96-3842 & 96-3928.
Citation:125 F.3d 481
Party Name:SOO LINE RAILROAD COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v. ST. LOUIS SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Case Date:September 08, 1997
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 481

125 F.3d 481 (7th Cir. 1997)

SOO LINE RAILROAD COMPANY, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee,

v.

ST. LOUIS SOUTHWESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY,

Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

Nos. 96-3842 & 96-3928.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 8, 1997

Argued May 15, 1997.

Page 482

Michael W. Rathsack (argued), Thomas L. Hogan, Connelly & Schroeder, Soo Line Railroad Company, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.

Richard M. Kates (argued), Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and KANNE and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

KANNE, Circuit Judge.

This case concerns a contract between the Soo Line Railroad Company (Soo) and the St. Louis Southwest Railway Company (SSW) under which SSW agreed to "interchange" railroad freight cars through its Armourdale rail yard in Kansas City, Kansas. 1 SSW also agreed to perform certain services on these cars at the Armourdale yard. This interchange agreement covered both cars entering the yard from the Soo and cars leaving the yard to the Soo.

Before cars leaving the yard could reach the Soo, however, they had to pass over tracks owned by the Kansas City Terminal (KCT). The KCT imposed "zone" charges on these cars, and the Soo paid approximately $900,000 in these charges between September 1984 and June 1991. The contract between the Soo and SSW, however, provided:

On cars interchanged from SSW to [the Soo] at Armourdale, SSW shall reimburse [the Soo] the Kansas City Terminal zone charges which are paid by [the Soo] to Kansas City Terminal.

Although the Soo was therefore entitled to reimbursement, it failed to bill SSW for the money until 1992. The Soo mistakenly thought SSW was paying the KCT charges directly, thus making reimbursement unnecessary. When the Soo finally did ask SSW for reimbursement, SSW paid approximately $300,000 for charges incurred after June 1989, but refused to pay the other $600,000 for charges prior to June 1989. SSW cited a three-year statute of limitations specified by a provision of the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA). Under the version of the statute then in effect,

[a] common carrier providing transportation or service subject to the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission under chapter 105 of this title ... must begin a civil action to recover charges for transportation or service provided by the carrier...

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