143 F.Supp.2d 1225 (W.D.Wash. 2001), C00-1637, King County v. Rasmussen

Docket Nº:C00-1637R.
Citation:143 F.Supp.2d 1225
Party Name:KING COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Washington, Plaintiff, v. John RASMUSSEN and Nancy Rasmussen, husband and wife, and their marital community, Defendants.
Case Date:May 25, 2001
Court:United States District Courts, 9th Circuit, Western District of Washington

Page 1225

143 F.Supp.2d 1225 (W.D.Wash. 2001)

KING COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Washington, Plaintiff,


John RASMUSSEN and Nancy Rasmussen, husband and wife, and their marital community, Defendants.

No. C00-1637R.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, at Seattle.

May 25, 2001

Scott Johnson, Howard P. Schneiderman, King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Seattle, WA, for plaintiff.

J. Jarrette Sandlin, Sandlin Law Firm, Zillah, WA, for defendants.

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ROTHSTEIN, District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the court on plaintiff King County's (the "County") motion for summary judgment, motion to dismiss, and motions to strike. Having reviewed the papers filed in support of and in opposition to these motions, the court rules as follows:


The dispute centers on ownership of a 100'--wide strip of land that runs along the eastern shore of Lake Sammamish in King County, Washington. Homesteaders Bill Hilchkanum and Mary Hilchkanum claimed the strip and the surrounding land in 1876. They received their final ownership certificate in 1884 and their fee patent in 1888. On May 9, 1887, by deed, the Hilchkanums conveyed an interest in the strip to the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company (the "Railway"). The text of the deed states:

In Consideration of the benefits and advantages to accrue to us from the location construction and operation of the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, in the County of King, in Washington Territory, we do hereby donate grant and convey unto said Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company a right-of-way one hundred (100) feet in width through our lands in said County described as follows to wit

Lots one (1) two (2) and three (3) in section six (6) township 24 North of Range six (6) East.

Such right of way strip to be fifty (50) feet in width on each side of the center line of the railway track as located across our said lands by the Engineer of said railway Company which location is described as follows to wit [legal description]

And the said Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway Company shall have the right to go upon the land adjacent to said line for a distance of two hundred (200) feet on each side thereof and cut down all trees dangerous to the operation of said road

To have and to hold the said premises with the appurtenances unto the said party of the second part and to its successors and assigns forever.

Mary Hilchkanum later conveyed her portion of the homestead property to her husband by quitclaim deed. The conveyance is "less (3) three acres right of way of Rail Road." Bill Hilchkanum then conveyed the property to a third party "less three (3) acres heretofore conveyed to the Seattle International Railway for right of way purposes." Later conveyances of the property included language "excepting" the Railway right of way from the legal descriptions. John Rasmussen and Nancy Rasmussen (the "Rasmussens") currently own a portion of what was the Hilchkanum property. The right of way strip bisects their land.

The Railway, and its successor Burlington Northern, built a track on the strip of land and used the track regularly for rail service until approximately 1996. In 1997, Burlington Northern sold its railway corridor, including the Hilchkanum strip, to The Land Conservancy of Seattle and King County ("TLC"). TLC petitioned the United States States Surface Transportation Board ("STB") to abandon use of the corridor for rail service under the National Trail System Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d) ("Rails-to-Trails Act"). The STB approved interim trail use of the corridor by King County and issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use. The County then

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purchased the corridor from TLC and obtained title to the right of way carved from the Hilchkanum property.

The Rasmussens have vigorously opposed the County's efforts to railbank the strip and have asserted a fee simple interest in the right of way. As a result, the County brought this action to quiet title and to obtain a declaration of its rights to use the strip. The County received a preliminary injunction in state court against the Rasmussens to prevent interference with County work on the site. The Rasmussens then removed the action to federal court. The Rasmussens have counterclaimed with allegations that the County violated their First Amendment, Second Amendment, Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights, along with violations of 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d), 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 28 U.S.C. § 1358, and Article 1, Section 16 of the Washington state constitution. The County brought these motions to dispose of the entire case.


A. Motion to Strike Briefing and Evidence

1. Overlength Briefs

Civil Rule 7(c) of the Western District of Washington limits parties to 24-page memoranda unless they obtain prior permission from the court. The Rasmussens submitted a 34-page response to the County's motion for summary judgment and a 32-page response to the County's motion to dismiss. Moreover, a declaration from John Rasmussen accompanies the responses and includes legal argument. The Rasmussens did not request advance permission from the court to file overlength briefs.

The Rasmussen's submissions violate the plain language of Civil Rule 7(c). The court will strike all briefing of both responses beyond page 24, and the arguments contained in those excess pages will not be considered. In addition, the court will strike all portions of the John Rasmussen declaration and attached exhibits that include legal argument. Specifically, the following portions of John Rasmussen's declaration will not be considered:

(a) Exhibits 1, 9, and 10 to the Rasmussen declaration, which are legal briefs on various issues;

(b) Page 2, line 17 - page 4, line 7 of the declaration, which contain legal argument;

(c) Page 7, line 26 - page 10, line 3 of the declaration, which contain legal argument, and Exhibits 4 - 7 introduced on those pages;

(d) Page 12, lines 11 - 15 of the declaration, which contain legal argument; and

(e) Page 18, line 4 - page 20, line 19 of the declaration, which contain legal argument, and Exhibits 11 - 14 introduced on those pages.

2. Inadmissible Evidence


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