United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JORGE L. ALONSO, District Judge.
Before the Court are several motions. For the reasons explained below, defendants' motion to dismiss Count III of the amended complaint is granted; counterdefendant Chessie Logistics Company, LLC's motion for judgment on the pleadings on the counterclaim is denied; counterplaintiff 4545 James Place Realty, LLC's motion to supplement its response is denied; and counterdefendant's motion to supplement its motion is denied.
Plaintiff, Chessie Logistics Company, LLC ("Chessie"), brought this action for trespass, negligence, and violation of 49 U.S.C. § 10903 against defendants Krinos Holdings, Inc.; Krinos Foods, LLC; Krinos Realty, LLC; and 4545 James Place Realty, LLC ("4545 James Place"). Chessie is "a common carrier by railroad" that "owns and operates 1.006 miles of railroad track and underlying real property" in Melrose Park, Illinois. (R. 74, Am. Compl. ¶ 1.) 4545 James Place owns, and one or more of the Krinos defendants operate, an industrial facility adjacent to Chessie's railroad track. (Id. ¶ 3.) Chessie alleges that it "obtained and currently owns an easement  for the construction, operation, maintenance, repair and use of switch and spur track'... over lots located in the industrial park where the main line railroad track... is located." (Id. ¶ 2.) According to Chessie, this easement includes the use of a side track and a spur track that ends in a bumper, which "cross over" the property owned by 4545 James Place and connect with Chessie's lead railroad track. (Id. ¶ 4.)
Chessie alleges that in 2012, defendants' construction of a sewer line to serve their facility resulted in the burial of the spur track under landfill material, making the track impassable. (Id. ¶ 10.) The material deposited on the spur track altered the landscape by creating a "downward slope, " causing "runoff from the slope to drain onto, encroach upon, and contaminate the lead railroad track and the side track, contaminating the rock ballasts supporting the track with dirt and thereby destabilizing the tracks during wet or freezing weather conditions due to the retained water." (Id. ¶ 12.) In addition, at some time in January or February 2013, defendants' construction activities resulted in dirt, landfill material, and other debris being deposited on Chessie's lead railroad track, causing it to become impassable and interfering with Chessie's railroad operations. (Id. ¶ 11.) It is further alleged that after Chessie complained to defendants, defendants attempted to remove the material but ended up damaging Chessie's track, burying the spur track even deeper, and creating drainage problems, and defendants also dumped brush on Chessie's property. (Id. ¶¶ 15-18.) Defendants assert that Chessie was never granted easements on their property, or, in the alternative, Chessie abandoned the easements. (R. 78, Answer 9-10.)
A. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Count III
Defendants move to dismiss Count III of the amended complaint, which alleges that defendants violated 49 U.S.C. § 10903.
1. Legal Standards
"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (ellipsis omitted). Under federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Stated differently, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570, 556 (2007)). "In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [courts must] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, but [they] need not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.'" Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)).
2. No Private Right of Action
Chessie alleges that defendants have violated 49 U.S.C. § 10903, a statute that requires rail carriers who provide transportation subject to the jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board (the "Board") to apply to the Board for authorization to abandon any part of, or discontinue the operation of all rail transportation over, any part of their railroad lines. 49 U.S.C. § 10903(a)(1). The statute describes what the carrier must include in the application and the procedural steps for its filing. Id. § 10903(a)(2), (3), (c)(2). Section 10903 also specifies the factors that the Board must consider when deciding whether to approve the application. Id. § 10903(d), (e). According to Chessie, when a party other than the rail carrier seeks to have a railroad line or a portion thereof to be deemed abandoned, that party must seek the approval of the Board through an "adverse abandonment" proceeding. (Am. Compl. ¶ 29.) Chessie's theory is that by rendering Chessie's lead railroad track impassable, defendants have caused an "unauthorized adverse abandonment" of a portion of that track in violation of § 10903. (Id. ¶ 30.)
Defendants contend that there is no private right of action under § 10903. The Court agrees. The statute does not expressly confer a private right of enforcement and contains no rights-creating language whatsoever from which the Court can infer a legislative intent to create such a right (or any remedy). Cf. Mich. S. R.R. v. Branch & St. Joseph Cntys. Rail Users Ass'n, 287 F.3d 568, 574 (6th Cir. 2002) (stating that § 10903 does not provide for a private cause of action by one party to a private contract against the other for its failure to obtain Board approval for operation of a rail line, when such approval is made a condition of the contract). None of the ...