Henry C. Wedemeyer and Martha L. Wedemeyer, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
CSX Transportation, Inc., Defendant-Appellee.
January 11, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. No.
2:13-cv-00440-LJM-WGH - Larry J. McKinney, Judge.
Flaum, Easterbrook, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.
1989, CSX Transportation successfully petitioned the
Interstate Commerce Commission (the "ICC") to end
CSX's obligation to provide common-carrier rail service
on a portion of track in Putnam County, Indiana. The
following year, CSX notified the ICC that it had abandoned
that segment. Shortly thereafter, CSX leased a portion of its
track, including the abandoned segment, for use by a
Wedemeyers own property adjoining the abandoned track
segment. They sued CSX seeking removal of the tracks and
possession of the real property underlying the rail line. CSX
moved for summary judgment, and the district court granted
its motion, finding that the Wedemeyers' claims were
preempted under the Interstate Commerce Commission
Termination Act ("ICCTA"), 49 U.S.C. §
10501(b). We affirm.
one of the largest rail transportation companies in the
United States and a "rail carrier" under the ICCTA.
CSX's rail network consists of approximately 21, 000
route miles spanning 23 states, including Indiana.
Historically, CSX and its predecessors operated two primary
rail lines through Putnam County, Indiana: (1) a north-south
line running from Chicago, Illinois, to Cloverdale, Indiana;
and (2) an east-west line between Indianapolis, Indiana, and
Decatur, Illinois. These two lines intersected in Roachdale,
Indiana. CSX acquired the portion of the east-west line at
issue by a deed dated 1876 and an instrument of appropriation
dated 1879 conveyed to CSX's predecessor railway company.
CSX has continuously operated trains through Roachdale over
the east-west line since at least 1966.
1989, CSX filed a petition for an exemption with the ICC
seeking to end CSX's obligation to provide common-carrier
rail service on a 26.73-mile segment of mainline track on the
east-west line (from Milepost 132.45 near Mitcheilville, just
outside of Indianapolis, to Milepost 159.18 near Roachdale).
The ICC granted CSX's petition, thereby giving CSX
conditional authority to end its obligation to provide
common-carrier rail service on that track segment, which
would no longer be "mainline track." CSX then had
several options with respect to this track, including
continuing to utilize it as non-mainline track,
e.g., as industry, spur, team, switching, or side
track (collectively, "auxiliary
track"); or physically removing the
track. In 1990, CSX notified the ICC that it had
"abandoned" the segment.
at least 1990, CSX has provided rail service to a Roachdale
grain-shipping facility located adjacent to CSX's track,
to the east of the north-south line. Beginning in 1992, CSX
leased a portion of the track to the grain shipper for use at
its facility. The lease granted the grain shipper the right
to use (1) the CSX mainline track west of Milepost 159.18,
which connected to the north-south line at Milepost 159.80
(continuous mainline track), and (2) the abandoned track east
of Milepost 159.18 (former mainline track). The leased track
has been used for the storage and switching of empty inbound
railcars and loaded outbound railcars. CSX also retained the
right under the lease to switch railcars on the tracks as
needed to conduct its own railroad operations, and to operate
over the leased track with its own locomotives and rail
equipment. Between 2001 and 2014, CSX transported more than
15, 000 carloads from the grain facility using the tracks.
("Kit") Wedemeyer and Martha Wedemeyer own real
property in Roachdale that adjoins approximately 2, 588 feet
of the former mainline (now auxiliary) track east of Milepost
159.18. The Wedemeyers were aware of the rail line and its
active use when they took up residence on the property in
2003, accepted the deed to the property in 2005, and
constructed their residence adjacent to the rail line. Kit
also grew up on the property and recalls trains using the
rail line adjacent to the property as far back as the late
1960s. The rail line remained in place and operational during
the Wedemeyers' entire period of residence and ownership.
Wedemeyers first complained to CSX about the railroad
operations on the track adjacent to their property on or
about August 2, 2013. In or around September 2013, when the
Wedemeyers learned that CSX claimed to control the uses of
the track in question, Kit spoke by telephone to Leah Weider,
the CSX Transportation Property Services Group Manager, and
directed CSX to vacate and cease any further entry onto the
November 2013, the Wedemeyers filed in Putnam Superior Court
a "Complaint to Quiet Title and for Trespass and
Ejectment and Permanent Injunction, " which sought
"immediate and sole possession" of the real
property underlying the rail line and demanded that CSX
"remove its ties, rails, and ballast" from the rail
line. The Wedemeyers' complaint alleged that CSX had
abandoned the track at issue in December 2003, pursuant to a
settlement agreement and declaratory judgment filed in an
Indiana state-court class action-Clark v. CSX Transp.,
Inc., No. 29D03-9308-CP-404 (Hamilton Cry Super. Ct).
The declaratory judgment, which was filed in 2004, stated in
4. Where the title held by CSX to that portion of the
Settlement Corridor has been determined pursuant to the
Settlement Agreement to be less than fee title, the
designation of "Easement" appears in the column
titled "Interest Status" in Exhibit A. With respect
to these portions of the Settlement Corridor, the Court
declares that the Settlement Class Member's title to the
portion of the Settlement Corridor adjacent to their property
is superior to any claims of title by CSX, subject to any
prior adjudication of title in a Court of law in which the