The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge:
Friday, 29 June, 2012 04:27:45 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
This matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion to Consolidate and for Entry of Judgment ("Motion"). See d/e 25. On June 21, 2012, this Court held a hearing on the Motion. See Minute Entry of June 21, 2012. At the hearing, with the agreement of the parties, this Court consolidated cases 09-3094 and 10-3127 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs Kansas City Southern Railway Company and Norfolk Southern Railway Company own property in the Sny Island Levee Drainage District ("District"). The District functions pursuant to the Illinois Drainage Code. See 70 ILCS 605/1-1 et seq. The District operates a surface water control system, the maintenance and upkeep of which is funded through assessments levied on properties within the District. Historically, the District levied assessments on all properties on a per-acre basis but, beginning in 2009, the District began assessing railroads, pipelines, and utilities ("RPU") based on the estimated benefits RPU properties received from the surface water control system. With the exception of six commercial and industrial properties that were not assessed, all other properties continued to be assessed on a per-acre basis, plus an additional $10-per-acre fee. The RPU "benefits-based" assessment scheme resulted in massive fee increases for Plaintiff railroad carriers.
In response to the increased 2009 assessments, Plaintiffs brought suit against Defendants (case no. 09-3094) in this Court alleging the assessments were discriminatory under the anti-tax discrimination provisions of the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act ("4-R Act"). See 49 U.S.C. § 11501. Plaintiffs deposited the disputed 2009 assessment payments in the Registry of the Court.
Plaintiffs filed an identical cause of action (case no. 10-3127) in response to the 2010 "benefits-based" assessments levied by the District against Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs deposited the 2010 and 2011 assessments in the Registry of the Court.
U.S. District Judge Jeanne E. Scott ruled in favor of the District in case no. 09-3094. See Kansas City S. Ry. v. Borrowman, No. 09-3094, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44701, at *15 (C.D. Ill. May 6, 2010). Specifically, Judge Scott held that Plaintiffs had failed to establish that "the ratio of the assessed value to true market value of rail transportation exceed[ed] by at least 5 percent the ratio of assessed value to true market value of other commercial and industrial property in the same assessment jurisdiction." See Kansas City S. Ry., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44701, at *11--12, 15 (quoting 49 U.S.C. § 11501(c)). Plaintiffs had not submitted any "evidence relating to the true market value of lands within the District." Kansas City S. Ry., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44701, at *14. Because Plaintiffs had failed to meet their burden of demonstrating discriminatory impact, they had failed to prove a violation of the 4-R Act. See id. at *13. Judge Scott declined to enjoin the assessment as discriminatory. See id. at *15.
Plaintiffs appealed, and the parties filed a Joint Motion to Stay the Proceedings in case no. 10-3127 until final judgment has been rendered in case no. 09-3094. See d/e 20. This Court granted the Motion. See Text Order June 30, 2010.
The Seventh Circuit subsequently reversed Judge Scott's judgment in case no. 09-3094, holding that 49 U.S.C. § 11501(c) need not be satisfied for the award of injunctive relief pursuant to § 11501(b)(4). Kansas City S. Ry. v. Koeller, 653 F.3d 496, 512 (7th Cir. 2011). That is, Plaintiffs need not establish that "the ratio of the assessed value to true market of rail transportation exceed[s] by at least 5 percent the ratio of assessed value to true market value of other commercial and industrial property in the same assessment jurisdiction" to receive injunctive relief under § 11501(b)(4). Id. at 512 (quoting 49 U.S.C. § 11501(c)). The Seventh Circuit then found the 2009 assessments discriminatory and remanded to this Court with instructions to enjoin the 2009 assessments. See Kansas City S. Ry., 653 F.3d at 512--13.
The parties filed a Joint Status Report, Consent to Release of Funds, and Joint Motion for Stay of Proceedings with this Court, noting the parties had agreed to mediation and requesting the Court remit to Plaintiffs the 2009 assessments held in the Registry of the Court. See d/e 106. This Court granted the Motion, remitting the 2009 assessments to Plaintiffs. See d/e 108. The parties attempted mediation without success.
On October 17, 2011, Defendants filed the Motion to Consolidate and for Entry of ...