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

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

May 9, 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.

          MAG. JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES

          RULING

          ROBERT G. JAMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are motions for partial summary judgment [Doc. Nos. 189, 195, 199 & 207] filed by Prewett Enterprises, Inc. (“Prewett”), Hulcher Services, Inc. (“Hulcher”), College City Leasing, LLC (“College City”), Daniel Shackleford (“Shackleford”), Taylor Logistics, Inc. (“Taylor Logistics), Taylor Truck Line, LLC (“Taylor Truck”), Taylor Consolidated, Inc. (“Taylor Consolidated”)[1], and Union Pacific Railroad Co. (“Union Pacific”). Prewett, Hulcher, the Taylor Entities, and Union Pacific move the Court for summary judgment on the loss of lease payments asserted by R & L Properties of Oak Grove, LLC (“Properties”) and R & L Builders Supply, Inc. (“Builders Supply”) based on the expansion of the Builder Supply business.

         For the following reasons, the motions for partial summary judgment on the loss of lease payments are GRANTED.[2]

         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.[3] The tractor-trailer was owned by College City and leased to 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[4] (“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.

         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.[5] 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 Church Street Land.

         On February 27, 2017, the Court issued a Ruling and Judgment [Doc. Nos. 287 & 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, as well as the Taylor Entities move for summary judgment on the business 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. Standard of Review

          Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under ...


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