United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. ALONSO United States District Judge.
the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary
judgment on plaintiff's claims and
plaintiff/counterdefendant's motion to supplement its
exhibits. For the following reasons,
defendants'/counterplaintiffs' motion for summary
judgment is granted; plaintiff/counterdefendant's motion
for summary judgment is denied; and plaintiff/
counterdefendant's motion to supplement its exhibits is
denied as moot.
Chessie Logistics Company LLC (“Chessie” or
“plaintiff”), brings this action for trespass,
negligence, and violation of 49 U.S.C. § 10903 against
defendants, 4545 James Place Realty, LLC (“4545 James
Place”); Krinos Holdings, Inc.; Krinos Foods LLC; and
Krinos Realty LLC (the “Krinos Entities” or
“defendants”). Chessie is a common carrier by
railroad that claims to own in fee simple lead railroad
tracks (the “Lead Tracks”) in an industrial park
in Melrose Park, Illinois that are adjacent to, as well as
easements for the use of switches and spur tracks (the
“Spur Tracks”) that cross over, property owned by 4545
James Place where one or more of the Krinos Entities operate
an industrial facility (the “4545 Property”).
Chessie alleges that defendants trespassed on, and
negligently damaged, the Spur Tracks “by performing
construction work to install sewer tiles onto the Spur Track
drainage ditch and placing landfill on top of” the Spur
Tracks. (ECF No. 162, Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' LR 56.1
Stmt. ¶¶ 69-70.) Chessie further alleges that
defendants' activities “created a slope on top
of” the Spur Tracks, “which caused the landfill
to encroach onto” the Lead Tracks, and that defendants
later did more damage to the Lead Tracks by using heavy
equipment to remove landfill. (Id.; ECF No. 165,
Pl.'s Mem. at 10.) Chessie seeks $618, 442 in damages for
what it says would be the cost of removing the landfill and
repairing the damage to the tracks and roadbed. (ECF No.
165-2, Pl.'s Ex. 16, Expert Report of Thomas E. Scott Jr.
at 6, 29.)
James Place filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment and
ejectment and to quiet title, asserting that Chessie was
never granted the easements over its land or, in the
alternative, Chessie abandoned them.
Court previously dismissed with prejudice Chessie's claim
for violation of 49 U.S.C. § 10903, leaving the trespass
and negligence claims. Defendants move for summary judgment
on both claims, and Chessie cross-moves for summary
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must construe the evidence and
all inferences that reasonably can be drawn therefrom in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Kvapil v.
Chippewa Cty., 752 F.3d 708, 712 (7th Cir. 2014);
McKinney v. Cadleway Props., Inc., 548 F.3d 496,
499-500 (7th Cir. 2008). “A factual dispute is
‘genuine' only if a reasonable jury could find for
either party.” Nichols v. Mich. City Plant Planning
Dep't, 755 F.3d 594, 599 (7th Cir. 2014) (citation
and internal quotation marks omitted). “‘[T]he
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute'
will not defeat summary judgment.” Bordelon v. Bd.
of Educ., 811 F.3d 984, 989 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
cross-motions for summary judgment, the court considers
“the burden of proof that each party would bear on an
issue of trial” and then “require[s] that party
to go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively to establish a
genuine issue of material fact.” Santaella v.
Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997).
For each motion, factual inferences are viewed in the
nonmovant's favor. Hotel 71 Mezz Lender LLC v.
Nat'l Ret. Fund, 778 F.3d 593, 603 (7th Cir. 2015).
Cross-motions for summary judgment “must be evaluated
together, and the court may not grant summary judgment for
either side unless the admissible evidence as a whole-from
both motions-establishes that no material facts are in
dispute.” Bloodworth v. Vill. of Greendale,
475 F. App'x 92, 95 (7th Cir. 2012).
Trespass (Count I)
prevail on a trespass claim under Illinois law, a plaintiff
must plead and prove negligent or intentional conduct by the
defendant which resulted in an intrusion on the
plaintiff's interest in exclusive possession of
land.” Sak v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 940
F.Supp.2d 802, 804 (N.D. Ill. 2013) (citing Porter v.
Urbana-Champaign Sanitary Dist., 604 N.E.2d 393, 398
(Ill.App.Ct. 1992) (citing Dial v. City of
O'Fallon, 411 N.E.2d 217, 222 (Ill. 1980))). Chessie
contends that defendants interfered with its Lead Tracks on
land that it owns in fee simple as well as easement rights
over the 4545 Property for the “construction,
operation, maintenance, repair, and use of” switches
and spur track. (Pl.'s Mem. at 2.) The parties do
not dispute that Chessie owns the Lead Tracks and underlying
real property, but they do dispute whether Chessie owns
easement rights over the 4545 Property.
Chessie's Easement Rights
easement is a right or privilege in the real estate of
another.” McMahon v. Hines, 697 N.E.2d 1199,
1203 (Ill.App.Ct. 1998). “The user of the right of the
easement enjoys what is referred to as a dominant estate over
the used land, which is the servient estate.”
Id. “In the context of easements, trespass
occurs when there is a material interference with the right
of the owner of the dominant estate to reasonable use of the
easement.” Chi. Title Land Trust Co. v. JS
II, LLC, 977 N.E.2d 198, 218 (Ill.App.Ct. 2012).
“To acquire an easement by grant, no particular words
are necessary, but the words that are used must clearly show
an intention by the grantor to confer an easement, and such
terms must be definite, certain, and unequivocal.”
McMahon, 697 N.E.2d at 1203. “A court
interprets an easement in the same manner it would interpret
any agreement between parties. Generally, an instrument
creating an easement is construed in accordance with the
intention of the parties, which is ascertained from the words
of the instrument and the circumstances contemporaneous to
the transaction, including the state of the thing conveyed
and the objective to be obtained. However, if the language of
an agreement is facially unambiguous, then the trial court
interprets the contract as a matter of law without the use of
extrinsic evidence.” River's Edge
Homeowners' Ass'n v. City of Naperville, 819
N.E.2d 806, 809 (Ill.App.Ct. 2004); 527 S. Clinton, LLC
v. Westloop Equities, LLC, 7 N.E.3d 756, 765
Chessie's burden to demonstrate that it owns easement
rights over the 4545 Property. Chessie contends that J. Emil
Anderson & Son, Inc. (“JEAS”) conveyed these
rights to it by quitclaim deed. The quitclaim deed, dated
July 23, 2013, provides as follows:
THE GRANTOR, J. EMIL ANDERSON & SONS
[sic], INC., . . . for and in consideration
of Ten and No/100 DOLLARS ($10.00), and other good and
valuable consideration, . . . CONVEYS and QUIT CLAIMS to
CHESSIE LOGISTICS CO., LLC, . . . all of the
Grantor's rights and interest in the Premises described
on E ...