The Railroad removed the case to District Court (E.D. Okla.) and moved for summary judgment based on the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 (ICCTA) which, it argued, both expressly and impliedly preempted Landowners' state law tort claims. 49 U.S.C.A. §10101 et seq. The District Court agreed and granted the Railroad’s motion. Landowners appealed.
The Court of Appeals first examined the Railroad’s express preemption claim. The ICCTA contains an express preemption clause that reads: “[e]xcept 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.” 49 U.S.C. §10501(b). The Court of Appeals determined that putting debris into a ditch and the failure to otherwise properly maintain that ditch fell outside of the ICCTA definition of “transportation.” Thus, the express preemption clause did not cover the state law claims brought by Landowners.
The Court of Appeals next considered the Railroad’s claim that the ICCTA impliedly preempted the state tort claims through conflict preemption. Conflict preemption would be found if it were impossible for the Railroad to comply with both the ICCTA and requirements that would be imposed on it by Oklahoma state tort law if Landowners were to prevail. The Court reviewed a variety of precedent and ultimately adopted the rule that “states retain local police powers related to the health and safety of their citizens provided it does not interfere with interstate railroad operations.” In order for the motion for summary judgment to prevail on this point, the Railroad had the burden of showing that any and all potential remedial measures would impermissibly “interfere with interstate railroad operations.” The Court of Appeals held that the Railroad had failed to satisfy that burden.
Finding neither type of preemption applicable, the Court of Appeals reversed the Distrct Court grant of Summary Judgment to the Railroad.
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
|Plaintiff Lawyer(s)||Plaintiff Law Firm(s)|
|Dale Williams Jr||Hall Estill Hardwick Gable Golden & Nelson PC|
|Defendant Lawyer(s)||Defendant Law Firm(s)|
|C. Ryan Norton||Hardin Jesson & Terry PLC|
|Rex Terry||Hardin Jesson & Terry PLC|
|W. G. Steidley, Jr.||Steidley & Neal PLLC|