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Railroad law has been an integral part of Modrall Sperling's practice for decades. The lawyers in our Railroad group have worked with railroad clients in a range of transactions including the acquisition and expansion of railroad rights-of-way through eminent domain and the siting and permitting of intermodal and other railroad facilities. Our lawyers are conversant in the range of federal laws regulating the rail industry from the 1875 Railroad Right of Way Act to the Interstate Commerce Termination Act. We recently were involved in negotiating the transaction that resulted in the creation of the New Mexico Rail Runner passenger train service.

Our railroad litigators are members of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel and regularly defend grade crossing accident cases for freight and passenger railroads, employee injury claims arising under the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA). Our lawyers also handle environmental and cultural resources issues for railroads.



Experience and Representative Cases

  • Atkinson Trading Co. v. Shirley, 531 U.S. 1009, 121 S. Ct. 1825 (2001).  Modrall Sperling filed an amicus brief for the Association of American Railroads which supported a successful challenge to a Hotel Occupancy Tax imposed by the Navajo Nation on guests of Atkinson Trading Company at Atkinson's Cameron Trading Post (and hotel) located on non-member-owned fee lands within the Navajo Reservation near the eastern entrance to Grand Canyon National Park.

  • Henderson v. Amtrak, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 207 (10th Cir. Jan. 5, 2011) (affirming summary judgment in favor of BNSF Railway Company in a grade crossing accident case).

  • Stark-Romero v. Amtrak, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11613 (D.N.M. Jan. 12, 2011) (lengthy decision denying a motion to remand and affirming federal court jurisdiction over suits involving Amtrak in a case with a complex procedural history which had been partially consolidated with another suit filed in state court).

  • Bhd. Of Maint. Of Way Employees Div. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Ry. Co., 595 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2010)(claim by unions that transfer of maintenance obligations to State of New Mexico under after sale of railroad line was a minor dispute preempted by Railway Labor Act).

  • Vigil v. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry., 521 F.Supp.2d 1185 (D.N.M. 2007) (exclusion of expert testimony concerning train event recorder data under Daubert and Fed.R.Civ.P 26(a)).

  • Chiwewe v. Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 239 F.Supp.2d 1213 (D.N.M. 2002) (enjoining prosecution of a grade crossing accident case filed in tribal court based on a lack of tribal court jurisdiction).

  • Thornton v. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 11 F.Supp.2d 1311 (D.N.M. 1997) (granting summary judgment for AT&SF on causation under the FELA where a railroad employee brought suit after injuring his back while changing a tire).