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Union Pacific Railroad Co. v. Taylor Truck Line Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

May 2, 2017

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY
v.
TAYLOR TRUCK LINE, INC., ET AL. R & L BUILDERS SUPPLY, INC., ET AL.
v.
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY, ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES MAG. JUDGE

          RULING

          ROBERT G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of trespass [Doc. Nos. 183, 193 &amp. 204] filed by Prewett Enterprises, Inc. (“Prewett”), Hulcher Services, Inc. (“Hulcher”), and Union Pacific Railroad Co. (“Union Pacific”). Prewett, Hulcher, and Union Pacific move the Court for summary judgment on any trespass claims asserted by R & L Properties of Oak Grove, LLC (“Properties”) and/or R & L Builders Supply, Inc. (“Builders Supply”).

         For the following reasons, the motions for summary judgment are GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On October 5, 2014, a collision occurred in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, when a Union Pacific train collided with a 2013 Kenworth tractor with trailer and dolly (hereinafter “tractor trailer”) which had become lodged on the highway/railway grade crossing when the driver, Daniel Shackleford, attempted to cross.[1] The tractor trailer was owned by College City Leasing, LLC (“College City”) and leased to Taylor Truck Lines, Inc. (“Taylor Truck”).

         As a result of the collision, approximately 17 railroad cars and 2 locomotives left the railroad tracks, cargo spilled, and a tank car leaked Argon onto surrounding property. Properties owns the land located along Church Street in Mer Rouge[2] (“the Church Street Land”) where at least some of the cars and other debris came to rest after the collision. Builders Supply operates a building supply and equipment facility on Andrews Lane in Mer Rouge.

         Union Pacific owns a right-of-way adjacent to the railroad that is seventy-five feet in width and thirty-seven and one-half feet on either side of the center line of the track. [Doc. Nos. 183-2 & 183-3]. The right-of-way runs adjacent to the Church Street Land. It also extended up to and through Davenport Avenue to the west of the collision scene[3] and to Bountz Lane to the east.

         On January 14, 2015, Union Pacific brought the instant suit against Shackleford, and the entities that otherwise owned, leased, or had another interest in the tractor trailer, Taylor Truck, Taylor Logistics, Inc., and College City.[4] On November 4, 2015, a lawsuit filed by Properties and Builders Supply was consolidated with this lawsuit.

         Approximately one year before the accident, Properties purchased the Church Street Land for the purpose of expanding Builders Supply's business operations. Prior to and at the time of the accident, Builders Supply was storing used cross ties on the Land.

         On February 27, 2017, the Court issued a Ruling and Judgment [Doc. Nos. 287 &amp. 288], finding that there was no valid lease of the Church Street Land from Properties to Builders Supply and dismissing any claims asserted by Builders Supply for damage to the Church Street Land. The Court allowed Builders Supply to proceed with any claims for damages to cross ties it had stored on the Church Street Land with Properties' permission.

         In the instant motions, Union Pacific and its contractors, Prewett and Hulcher, move for summary judgment on the trespass claims asserted by Properties and Builders Supply. The motions have been fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. ...


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