Justia Transportation Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
High Rock Lake Partners, LLC v. Dep’t of Transp.
A property owner sought a driveway permit from the State Department of Transportation (DOT) to connect its proposed subdivision's system of roads to a state road by which the property was accessed. Two railroad companies opposed the permit, claiming that the rail traffic at a nearby crossing, located approximately one-quarter of a mile away from the proposed driveway connection, might pose a safety hazard to future residents. Consequently, a DOT engineer denied the permit. On appeal, a DOT division engineer granted the permit request subject to the conditions that the owner make improvements to the railroad crossing and obtain the owning and operating railroads' consent to the improvements. On judicial review, the trial court ruled in favor of DOT, finding the agency acted within the scope of its powers in issuing the driveway permit subject to these conditions. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the conditions imposed by DOT in this case were not statutorily authorized, and therefore, DOT exceeded its authority when it issued the conditional permit. View "High Rock Lake Partners, LLC v. Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law
Girard v. Youngstown Belt Ry. Co.
Youngstown Belt Railway Company entered into a purchase agreement with Total Waste Logistics of Girard for the purchase of Mosier Yard, which the railway owned. The sale was never consummated, and later the city of Girard commenced an appropriation action to appropriate a portion of Mosier Yard. The trial court held that the city's appropriation proceedings were preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA). On remand, the trial court held that it would be inappropriate to consider the railway's potential sale to Total Waste in the preemption analysis but determined that the railway's use of a portion of the appropriated land for storage caused the city's action to be preempted by the ICCTA. The appellate court affirmed, although on different grounds. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the city's proposed eminent-domain action against the undeveloped portion of the railway's property, which did not contain any tracks or rights-of-way and did not have any concrete projected use that would constitute rail transportation by a rail carrier, was not preempted under the ICCTA.View "Girard v. Youngstown Belt Ry. Co." on Justia Law
Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc.
At issue in this case was whether, for purposes of Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. 16.068, an action for cargo damage against a common carrier, brought under the Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act, relates back to an action for breach of an agreement to settle the cargo-damage claim. The answer depended on whether the cargo-damage claim was, in the words of section 16.068, "wholly based on a new, distinct, or different transaction or occurrence" than the breach-of-settlement claim. A divided court of appeals held that the cargo-damage claim did not relate back and was therefore barred by limitations. The Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment for the plaintiff, holding that the cargo-damage claim and the breach-of-settlement claim both arose out of the same occurrence, and therefore, the cargo-damage claim was not barred by limitations.View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Daybreak Express, Inc." on Justia Law
Malpeli v. Montana
Faith Malpeli brought an inverse condemnation action against the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), seeking compensation for the alleged taking of her property as a result of the reconstruction of Montana Highway 191 near Big Sky during a highway safety improvement project. A jury found that MDT had not taken a property right belonging to Malpeli, and therefore did not reach the question of compensation. Malpeli appealed, arguing that the District Court erred by: (1) denying Malpeli's motions for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial; (2) excluding Malpeli's appraiser from testifying; and (3) allowing MDT to disclose to the jury an offer of compromise it had made to Malpeli before this action was filed. MDT cross-appealed, arguing that the District Court erred by denying its motion for partial summary judgment before trial. After careful consideration, the Supreme Court determined that the motion for summary judgment should have been granted, and therefore affirmed the judgment in favor of MDT.View "Malpeli v. Montana" on Justia Law
Jongeward v. BNSF Ry.
This case required the Supreme Court to construe the former RCW 64.12.030, the "timber trespass statute." Plaintiffs Jacon and Laura Jongeward, and Gordon and Jeannie Jongeward asserted a timber trespass claim against defendant BNSF Railway Company when a fire spread from BNSF's property and destroyed the Jongewards' trees. The district court certified the question to the Washington Supreme Court. To answer, the Court outlined the 142 year history of the statute, and concluded after its review of the history, that: (1) a plaintiff cannot recover damages under the timber trespass statute when a defendant commits an indirect act or omission that causes mere collateral injury; but (2) a plaintiff may recover damages when a defendant commits a direct trespass causing immediate injury to a plaintiff's trees, even if the defendant is not physically present on the plaintiff's property. View "Jongeward v. BNSF Ry." on Justia Law
Broughton Lumber Co. v. BNSF Ry.
This case required the Supreme Court to construe the former RCW 64.12.030, the "timber trespass statute." Plaintiff Broughton Lumber Company asserted a timber trespass claim against defendants BNSF Railway Company and Harsco Corporation in the United States District Court, District of Oregon, Portland Division, after a fire spread from BNSF's property and destroyed Broughton's trees. The district court certified the question to the Washington Supreme Court. To answer, the Court outlined the 142 year history of the statute, and concluded after its review of the history, that: (1) a plaintiff cannot recover damages under the timber trespass statute when a defendant commits an indirect act or omission that causes mere collateral injury; but (2) a plaintiff may recover damages when a defendant commits a direct trespass causing immediate injury to a plaintiff's trees, even if the defendant is not physically present on the plaintiff's property. View "Broughton Lumber Co. v. BNSF Ry." on Justia Law
State Comm’r of Transp. v. Kettleson
The Commission of Transportation requested a condemnation order for a portion of appellant Richard Lepak's land for the improvement and widening of a highway. After a condemnation hearing, the district court concluded that improving and widening the highway was a legitimate public purpose and that the state Department of Transportation had established a reasonable necessity. Therefore, the district court rejected the challenged to the proposed taking, and the court of appeals affirmed. At issue on review was whether the State had a valid public purpose for the taking because part of Lepak's land would be used to build a private road to mitigate damages to a neighboring parcel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the purpose of the taking in this case met the definition of "public use" or "public purpose" as set forth in Minn. Stat. 117.025. View "State Comm'r of Transp. v. Kettleson" on Justia Law
Ray, et al. v. Hartwell Railroad, Co., et al.
Appellants filed a petition to quiet title against all the world as to two parcels of land (Tracts 1 and 1A) in Lavonia, asserting a claim of slander of title against Hartwell Railroad Company (Hartwell). Hartwell only disputed appellants' title to the .67 acres of land comprising Tract 1A, claiming that the property was within the 100-foot right-of-way it held on either side of its railroad running through Lavonia. An appointed special master issued an order subsequently adopted by the trial court granting Hartwell's motion and denying appellants' motion. Appellants appealed, arguing that the trial court erroneously concluded that Hartwell held undisputed record and prescriptive title to Tract 1A by relying on certain inadmissible evidence. The court held that, even if the court determined that the trial court erred by concluding that Hartwell had title to Tract 1A as a matter of law, appellants would not be entitled to a reversal of the summary judgment entered in Hartwell's favor in view of the trial court's unchallenged rulings that appellants, as a matter of law, could not prove their own title to the property. As such, appellants could not benefit from resolution of the issues on appeal and the appeal was dismissed as moot.View "Ray, et al. v. Hartwell Railroad, Co., et al." on Justia Law