Maynard v. Csx Transp., Inc., No. CIV.A. 01-211-DLB.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Kentucky
Writing for the CourtBunning
Citation360 F.Supp.2d 836
PartiesPatsy C. MAYNARD, et al Plaintiffs v. CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC. Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff v. AEP Kentucky Coal, L.L.C. Third Party Defendant.
Decision Date12 March 2004
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A. 01-211-DLB.
360 F.Supp.2d 836
Patsy C. MAYNARD, et al Plaintiffs
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC. Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff
v.
AEP Kentucky Coal, L.L.C. Third Party Defendant.
No. CIV.A. 01-211-DLB.
United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Pikeville.
March 12, 2004.

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Lawrence R. Webster, Pikeville, KY, for Plaintiff.

James E. Cleveland, III, Ashland, KY, Neal Smith, Pikeville, KY, for Defendant.

Robert J. Patton, Prestonburg, KY, for Third Party Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

BUNNING, District Judge.


This matter is before the Court on defendant CSX Transportation's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 53) Plaintiff having filed their response (Doc. # 57), to which defendant has filed its reply (Doc. # 62), oral argument on the motion having been conducted, and the defendant having supplemented its motion with an additional memorandum of law (Doc. # 66), this motion is ripe for review.

Also pending before the Court is third-party defendant AEP Kentucky Coal's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 67). Neither plaintiffs nor defendant having filed any response to the motion and the time for submitting any response having expired, that motion is also ripe for the Court's review.

Factual and Procedural Background

Beginning in 1902, the Big Sandy ("Big Sandy") Railway Company, now known as defendant CSX Transportation, began acquiring deeds of easement from landowners in the Pike County, Kentucky area in an effort to obtain right-of-ways for CSX's main railroad line in the area of Plaintiff's properties. Big Sandy acquired a right-of-way from Plaintiffs' predecessors in title in 1902.

It is undisputed that the construction of the main railroad line traversing Plaintiffs' properties occurred sometime thereafter.

Plaintiffs are the owners of three tracts of real property located in Pike County, Kentucky. Plaintiffs acquired the property as the heirs at law of one Ruby Coleman who died on March 29, 2000.

Sometime prior to their acquisition of that real property1, a railway side track

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was constructed upon the real property by defendant CSX's predecessor in interest. That side track also traverses Plaintiffs' property and is near the main rail line. According to the uncontested representations of Plaintiffs' counsel during oral argument, houses were built on Plaintiff's property in 1993. Access to those houses is obtained via a crossing which intersects both the main rail line and the side track.

The Plaintiffs' property is located adjacent to AEP Kentucky Coal's coal loading facility. The side track is primarily used by AEP Kentucky Coal when loading coal so that the main rail line is not blocked during the loading process.

Plaintiffs filed their complaint in Pike Circuit Court on June 6, 2001. The case was removed to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. In their complaint, Plaintiffs have brought state law claims relating to the use of the side track, alleging that CSX has wrongfully, negligently, and carelessly permitted the side track to be blocked by trains for excessive time periods, sometimes in excess of six hours. According to Plaintiffs, this blockage denies them ingress and egress to their places of residence, causing them undue hardships, and diminishing the value of their property. Plaintiffs also allege that by virtue of the side track, CSX has negligently permitted drainage from adjoining properties to escape onto their property which has further diminished the value of their property.

In their prayer for relief, Plaintiffs ask for injunctive relief in the form of requiring the defendant to not block the crossing and to correct their drainage problem. Plaintiffs further seek recovery for diminution in the value of their real property and the value of its use.

Defendant CSX's Motion for Summary Judgment

In its motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 53), CSX argues that Plaintiffs' state common law claims of nuisance are preempted by the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act ("ICCTA"), 49 U.S.C. § 10101, et seq. CSX specifically argues that 49 U.S.C. § 10501(b) specifically preempts the Plaintiffs' claims. CSX further argues that the preemption is dictated by all three recognized types of preemption: express, field and conflict.

Plaintiffs' Response

Despite the allegations in their complaint, Plaintiffs argue that CSX has mis-characterized this action as a nuisance action. Plaintiffs assert that this action involves the enforcement of basic contract rights by a state court in matters where right-of-ways were granted by land owners who kept certain crossing rights and those rights are being violated. For that reason, Plaintiffs argue that ICCTA preemption should not bar the Court from resolving their claims in this Court.

Plaintiffs also argue some instances where certain state regulations governing railroads is not preempted by the ICCTA. In support of this latter argument, Plaintiffs rely upon the savings provisions contained in the Federal Railway Safety Act (FRSA)2. More particularly, Plaintiffs

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rely upon one of the FRSA's clauses that the relief requested will not place a substantial burden on interstate commerce. (emphasis added). Because there is no federal law or regulation which governs trains blocking private crossings, Plaintiffs argue there is no conflict with other regulations which would require preemption. Relying upon the savings provisions in the FRSA, Plaintiffs argue that the test for preemption is whether the railroad is required to make substantial capital improvements to comply with the statute or regulation. Using that test, Plaintiffs submit there should be no preemption because there is no proof that capital improvements by CSX would be necessary to provide them with the relief they seek.

Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings, answers to interrogatories, admissions, affidavits and other materials show "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Once the movant has met this initial burden, the non-movant cannot rest upon mere allegations in the pleadings or upon conclusory statements in affidavits; rather, he must go beyond the pleadings and support his contentions with proper documentary evidence. Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548.

The plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548. However, all evidence and inferences based on evidence must be considered in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Lenning v. Commercial Union Insurance Co., 260 F.3d 574, 581 (6th Cir.2001). Applying these principles, the court examines CSX's motion.

Analysis

"Congress and the courts long have recognized a need to regulate railroad operations at the federal level." City of Auburn v. U.S. Government, 154 F.3d 1025, 1029 (9th Cir.1998). Further, "Congress' authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate the railroads is well established." Id. (citations omitted). In that regard, Congress enacted in 1995 the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, 49 U.S.C. § 10101 et seq. ("ICCTA"). In enacting the ICCTA, Congress sought to deregulate the railroad industry. Recognizing that the over regulation of the surface transportation industries had led to financial problems for the rail industry, Congress intended for the ICCTA to significantly reduce state and local regulation of railroads. See S.Rep. No. 176, 104th Cong. 1st Sess. 3 (1995). In furtherance of this intended purpose, the jurisdictional section of the ICCTA grants the Surface Transportation Board ("STB") exclusive jurisdiction over nearly all matters of rail regulation. Cedarapids Inc. v. Chicago, Cent. & Pac. R.R. Co., 265 F.Supp.2d 1005 (N.D.Iowa 2003). More specifically, section 10501(b) of the ICCTA grants to the STB exclusive jurisdiction over —

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(2) the construction, acquisition, operation, abandonment or discontinuance of spur, industrial, team, switching or side tracks, or facilities, even if the tracks are located or intended to be located entirely in one state....

Moreover, the ICCTA contains an express preemption clause which provides that —

Except as otherwise provided in this part, the remedies provided under this part with respect to regulation of rail transportation are exclusive and preempt the remedies provided under Federal or State Law. (emphasis added).

The preemptive effect of the last sentence of section 10501(b) has been examined by several federal circuit and district courts which have consistently held that the ICCTA preempts state common law claims with respect to railroad operations.3 See, e.g., Friberg v. Kansas City S. Ry. Co., 267 F.3d 439, 444 (5th Cir.2001) (ICCTA preempts claims of negligence and negligence per se with respect to railroad's alleged road blockages); Pejepscot Industrial Park, Inc. v. Maine Central Railroad Co., 297 F.Supp.2d 326, 334 (D.Maine, 2003) (state-law tortious interference claim preempted by ICCTA); Guckenberg v. Wisconsin Cent. Ltd., 178 F.Supp.2d 954, 958...

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18 practice notes
  • Minton v. Paducah & Louisville Ry., Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:19CV-00074-JHM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • October 28, 2019
    ...preemption); Friberg v. Kansas City S. Ry. Co., 267 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir. 2001) (ordinary preemption); Maynard v. CSX Transp., Inc., 360 F. Supp. 2d 836, 840 (E.D. Ky. 2004) (ordinary preemption); Tubbs v. Surface Transp. Bd., 812 F.3d 1141, 1145 (8th Cir. 2015) (ordinary preemption); CSX......
  • People v. Burlington N. Santa FE R.R., No. A133559.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 16, 2012
    ...City Southern Ry. Co. (5th Cir.2011) 635 F.3d 796( Elam );Friberg, supra, 267 F.3d 439;Maynard v. CSX Transp., Inc. (E.D.Ky.2004) 360 F.Supp.2d 836( Maynard );BNSF v. DOT (2009) 227 Or.App. 468, 206 P.3d 261;City of Seattle, supra, 41 P.3d at pp. 1171–1172.) [209 Cal.App.4th 1530]In Elam, s......
  • People v. Burlington N. Santa Fe Railroad, No. A133559.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 16, 2012
    ...City Southern Ry. Co. (5th Cir.2011) 635 F.3d 796( Elam );Friberg, supra, 267 F.3d 439;Maynard v. CSX Transp., Inc. (E.D.Ky.2004) 360 F.Supp.2d 836( Maynard );BNSF v. DOT (2009) 227 Or.App. 468, 206 P.3d 261;City of Seattle, supra, 41 P.3d at pp. 1171–1172.) [209 Cal.App.4th 1530] In Elam, ......
  • Fox v. Norfolk S. Corp., A17A0319
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • June 23, 2017
    ...or declaratory relief that would require Norfolk Southern to modify or abandon its use of the sidetrack. See Maynard v. CSX Transp ., 360 F.Supp.2d 836, 838, 841-842 (E.D.Ky. 2004) (plaintiffs' state law nuisance claims alleging that the railroad's use of a side track blocked access to thei......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
18 cases
  • Minton v. Paducah & Louisville Ry., Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:19CV-00074-JHM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of Kentucky
    • October 28, 2019
    ...preemption); Friberg v. Kansas City S. Ry. Co., 267 F.3d 439, 443 (5th Cir. 2001) (ordinary preemption); Maynard v. CSX Transp., Inc., 360 F. Supp. 2d 836, 840 (E.D. Ky. 2004) (ordinary preemption); Tubbs v. Surface Transp. Bd., 812 F.3d 1141, 1145 (8th Cir. 2015) (ordinary preemption); CSX......
  • People v. Burlington N. Santa FE R.R., No. A133559.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 16, 2012
    ...City Southern Ry. Co. (5th Cir.2011) 635 F.3d 796( Elam );Friberg, supra, 267 F.3d 439;Maynard v. CSX Transp., Inc. (E.D.Ky.2004) 360 F.Supp.2d 836( Maynard );BNSF v. DOT (2009) 227 Or.App. 468, 206 P.3d 261;City of Seattle, supra, 41 P.3d at pp. 1171–1172.) [209 Cal.App.4th 1530]In Elam, s......
  • People v. Burlington N. Santa Fe Railroad, No. A133559.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 16, 2012
    ...City Southern Ry. Co. (5th Cir.2011) 635 F.3d 796( Elam );Friberg, supra, 267 F.3d 439;Maynard v. CSX Transp., Inc. (E.D.Ky.2004) 360 F.Supp.2d 836( Maynard );BNSF v. DOT (2009) 227 Or.App. 468, 206 P.3d 261;City of Seattle, supra, 41 P.3d at pp. 1171–1172.) [209 Cal.App.4th 1530] In Elam, ......
  • Fox v. Norfolk S. Corp., A17A0319
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • June 23, 2017
    ...or declaratory relief that would require Norfolk Southern to modify or abandon its use of the sidetrack. See Maynard v. CSX Transp ., 360 F.Supp.2d 836, 838, 841-842 (E.D.Ky. 2004) (plaintiffs' state law nuisance claims alleging that the railroad's use of a side track blocked access to thei......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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