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Walsh v. CSX Transportation

February 18, 2009

ALICE P. WALSH; AND THEODORE G. CALDES, TRUSTEE, ROSEMARY B. ZWEIG REVOCABLE TRUST, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CSX TRANSPORTATION, INC., DEFENDANT.



Gary L. Sharpe U.S. District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pending is defendant CSX Transportation, Inc.'s ("CSX") motion to dismiss under FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). (See Dkt. No. 16.) Alice P. Walsh and Theodore G. Caldes ("Walsh") bring this action alleging that defendant CSX wrongfully closed a private grade railroad crossing which provided access between two parcels of her land. Walsh asserts broad claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for unspecified constitutional violations; the Federal Railroad Safety Act ("FRSA"), 49 U.S.C. § 20101, et seq.; the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act ("ICCTA"), 49 U.S.C. § 10101, et seq.; the New York State Railroad Law; and for common law trespass. (See Dkt. No. 15.) For the reasons that follow the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. Background

Walsh owns a parcel of land consisting of approximately 36 acres in the vicinity of the Village of Castleton-on-Hudson. The property is divided by railroad tracks which are owned by CSX. Up until approximately May 1, 2001, access between the two parcels was available at a private railway crossing. On or about that date CSX "wrongfully trespassed upon [Walsh's] property" blocked access to the crossing and thereafter rendered the crossing unusable. On April 27, 2007, Walsh filed suit against CSX in New York State Supreme Court, Rensselear County. (See Dkt. No. 1.) On September 19, 2007, CSX removed the action to this court. Id.

III. Standard of Review

Rule 12(b)(6) provides that a cause of action shall be dismissed if a complaint fails "to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). Thus, "[t]o survive dismissal, the plaintiff must provide the grounds upon which his claim rests through factual allegations sufficient 'to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Shaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir.2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1965 (2007)). "A court's task in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is merely to assess the legal feasibility of the complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which might be offered in support thereof." AmBase Corp. v. City Investing Co. Liquidating Trust, 326 F.3d 63, 72 (2d Cir.2003) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Therefore, in reviewing a motion to dismiss, a court "must accept the facts alleged in the complaint as true and construe all reasonable inferences in [the plaintiff's] favor." Fowlkes v. Adamec, 432 F.3d 90, 95 (2d Cir.2005) (citation omitted).

IV. Discussion

A. Statutory Claims

CSX raises two arguments for dismissal of Walsh's statutory claims. First, that these claims have been insufficiently pled, and none of the statutes invoked give rise to a claim for the improper closure of a railroad crossing. Second, that each statutory claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. Finding the first argument to be dispositive, the court declines to address the second.

1. Federal Railroad Safety Act

The FRSA's purpose is to "promote safety in every area of railroad operations and reduce railroad-related accidents and incidents." 49 U.S.C. § 20101. Nothing in the Act or its legislative history indicates an intention to create a private right of action. Indeed, enforcement powers under the FRSA are vested solely with the Secretary of Transportation and, under certain conditions, the States or the Attorney General.*fn1 See 49 U.S.C. §§ 20111-20113. As such, every court to address the issue has found that there is no express or implied private remedy under the FRSA. See, e.g., Abate v. S. Pac. Transp. Co., 928 F.2d 167, 169-70 (5th Cir. 1991); Nippon Yusen Kaisha v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., No. CV048861GAF (RZX), 2005 WL 1241866, at *1-2 (C.D.Cal May 10, 2005). Walsh has not provided any reason to reject this view, or even cited to a potentially applicable provision under the FRSA. Accordingly, the court dismisses Walsh's claim thereunder.

2. Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act

The ICCTA was enacted for the purpose of minimizing regulation of the rail and motor carrier industries. See H.R. Rep. No. 104-311, at 82 (1995), reprinted in 1995 U.S.C.C.A.N. 793, 793. The Act eliminated the Interstate Commerce Commission and replaced it with the Surface Transportation Board ("STB"), which essentially acts as a judicial and regulatory body for issues arising under ICCTA. See 49 U.S.C. ยง 701. The provisions of the ICCTA are wide ranging, addressing everything from standards for establishing rates and routes to licensing, finance, transportation and operations. Private ...


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