Peters v. Burlington Northern R. Co., No. 91-1025

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtConsidered by McGIVERIN; ANDREASEN
Citation492 N.W.2d 399
Decision Date25 November 1992
Docket NumberNo. 91-1025
PartiesBill L. PETERS, Individually, and Peters Construction Company, Appellants, v. BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD COMPANY, Appellee.

Page 399

492 N.W.2d 399
Bill L. PETERS, Individually, and Peters Construction Company, Appellants,
v.
BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD COMPANY, Appellee.
No. 91-1025.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Nov. 25, 1992.

Donald G. Beattie, Ed Skinner of Skinner, Beattie & Wilson, P.C., Altoona, for appellants.

Paul D. Lundberg of Shull, Cosgrove, Hellige, Du Bray & Lundberg, Sioux City, for appellee.

Considered by McGIVERIN, C.J., and HARRIS, LARSON, SNELL, and ANDREASEN, JJ.

ANDREASEN, Justice.

Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages for defendant railroad's removal of private roadway and crossing which deprived them access to their gravel excavation business. The district court granted the defendant a directed verdict. Plaintiffs appealed, asserting that Iowa Code section 327G.11 (1987) requires a railroad to install and maintain an adequate roadway when a person's land is bisected by a railway. Plaintiffs urge that the railroad was negligent in failing to install and maintain an adequate roadway and in refusing to allow the plaintiffs to use the roadway for purposes of extracting and removing gravel from their land. We affirm the district court's decision.

I. Background.

In April 1988, Bill L. Peters purchased 160 acres of farmland. The property was

Page 400

bisected by Burlington Northern Railroad Company's (Burlington Northern) north-south tracks and 100-foot right-of-way. There was a roadway across the railway. Peters leased the property to Peters Construction Company in exchange for royalties on each ton of gravel sold from the deposits under the eastern twenty acres. Peters owned the entire corporate stock of the construction company and he was its president and board chairman. For purposes of this appeal, we will refer to both Peters and the construction company as Peters.

Peters began stripping the land in preparation of mining the sand and gravel from the eastern twenty acres. Peters also graveled a roadway and built up the railway crossing so its trucks could start on level ground after they stopped at the stop signs adjacent to Burlington Northern's tracks. In early May 1988, Burlington Northern told Peters to apply for a permit to use the crossing. Peters applied for the permit. Before the permit was issued, however, Peters began moving large amounts of heavy equipment and gravel across the crossing.

On August 5, the railroad removed and barricaded the crossing. The next day, Peters and Burlington Northern reached an agreement to reinstall the crossing for approximately thirty days to permit Peters to remove sixty thousand tons of gravel. The agreement required Peters to pay for a flagger at the crossing. The roadway was reopened on August 9. After the thirty days, Peters removed all the equipment as agreed. However, a stockpile of gravel was left behind. Peters also paid approximately $3200 to Burlington Northern for flagging costs.

On February 27, 1989, Peters filed suit against Burlington Northern for damages resulting from the closure of the crossing from August 5 to August 8, 1988. Plaintiffs asserted claims for trespass, conversion and negligence. Burlington Northern filed a counterclaim for flagging costs and to quiet title to the railway and right-of-way. Prior to trial, the district court granted Burlington Northern's motion for summary judgment on the quiet title action. At trial Peters offered no proof on the trespass and conversion claims. At the conclusion of all the evidence, the district court sustained Burlington Northern's motion for directed verdict on the negligence claim. The court then submitted Burlington Northern's counterclaim for recovery of flagging costs to the jury. The jury returned a verdict for Peters. The court entered judgment against Burlington Northern upon the jury's verdict and dismissed Peters' petition. Peters appealed.

This is a law action. Our review of the trial court's disposition of this action is for correction of...

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  • Waitt v. Speed Control, Inc., Nos. C-00-4060-MWB, C-00-4087-MWB (N.D. Iowa 6/28/2002), s. C-00-4060-MWB, C-00-4087-MWB.
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    ...of others against unreasonable risk of harm. Knake v. King, 492 N.W.2d 416, 417 (Iowa 1992); Peters v. Burlington Northern R.R. Co., 492 N.W.2d 399, 401 (Iowa 1992) ("Negligence is the breach of a legal duty or obligation."); Shaffer, 395 N.W.2d at 855; M.H. v. State, 385 N.W.2d 533, 537 (I......
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    ...of others against unreasonable risk of harm. Knake v. King, 492 N.W.2d 416, 417 (Iowa 1992); Peters v. Burlington Northern R.R. Co., 492 N.W.2d 399, 401 (Iowa 1992) ("Negligence is the breach of a legal duty or obligation."); Shaffer, 395 N.W.2d at 855; M.H. v. State, 385 N.W.2d 533, 537 (I......
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    ...a bill of sale to Asher. Under Iowa law, "negligence is the breach of a legal duty or obligation." Peters v. Burlington N. R.R. Co., 492 N.W.2d 399, 401 (Iowa 1992). Under Iowa law, the mere occurrence of an injury does not give rise to the inference that one of the parties involved was neg......
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    ...Co., 581 N.W.2d 597, 600 (Iowa 1998) ("issues must be presented to and passed upon by the district court"); Peters v. Burlington N. R.R., 492 N.W.2d 399, 401 (Iowa 1992) ("issues must be raised and decided by the [district] court"). The reason for this principle relates to the essential sym......
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