EUGENE, Ore. (Legal Newsline) – A railroad company is seeking a declaration that an Oregon statute is unconstitutional.
Albany & Eastern Railroad Co. filed a complaint on April 10 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division against State of Oregon, by and through the Oregon Department of Transportation, alleging violation of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Oregon Constitution.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges in 2012, it purchased a section of trackage with a number of private crossings. It alleges the neighboring landowners did not have easements and after it took possession in 2012, it notified the landowners of an annual crossing maintenance fee of $126.
The suit states the landowners commenced a court action, which led to a senator adopting ORS 824.237 in 2013. This statute prohibits Connect Oregon funds from being received by a railroad that charges landowners for easement access. The suit states the plaintiff has received Connect Oregon funds in the past.
"The legislature specifically intended to punish the Albany & Eastern Railroad for exercising its legal right to charge neighboring landowners who crossed its railroad tracks without easements a crossing permit fee through its adoption of ORS 824.237," the suit states.
The plaintiff alleges the adoption and implementation of the statute "creates an impermissible state regulation of a common carrier rail provider in violation of the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act."
The plaintiff seeks judgment for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and the award of such additional and further relief as the court finds equitable and just. It is represented by Martin E. Hansen of Francis, Hansen & Martin LLP in Bend, Oregon.
U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Eugene Division case number 6:18-cv-00610-JR