Union Pacific Railroad Co v. Taylor Truck Line Inc et al
MEMORANDUM RULING re 189 , 195 , 199 , and 207 MOTIONS for Partial Summary Judgment re loss of lease payments asserted by R & L Properties of Oak Grove L L C and R & L Builders Supply Inc based on the expansion of the Builder Supply business. Signed by Judge Robert G James on 5/9/2017. (crt,Crawford, A)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-0074
JUDGE ROBERT G. JAMES
TAYLOR TRUCK LINE, INC., ET AL.
MAG. JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES
--(consolidated with)-R & L BUILDERS SUPPLY, INC., ET AL.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-2460
JUDGE ROBERT G. JAMES
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY,
MAG. JUDGE KAREN L. HAYES
Pending before the Court are motions for partial summary judgment [Doc. Nos. 189, 195,
199 & 207] filed by Prewett Enterprises, Inc. (“Prewett”), Hulcher Services, Inc. (“Hulcher”),
College City Leasing, LLC (“College City”), Daniel Shackleford (“Shackleford”), Taylor Logistics,
Inc. (“Taylor Logistics), Taylor Truck Line, LLC (“Taylor Truck”), Taylor Consolidated, Inc.
(“Taylor Consolidated”)1, and Union Pacific Railroad Co. (“Union Pacific”). Prewett, Hulcher, the
Taylor Entities, and Union Pacific move the Court for summary judgment on the loss of lease
Collectively, the Court will refer to College City, Shackleford, Taylor Logistics, Taylor
Truck, and Taylor Consolidated as “the Taylor Entities.”
Taylor Consolidated is not listed as a movant in the motion for partial summary judgment
[Doc. No. 199] filed by the other Taylor entities. This appears to be a clerical error. To the
extent that claims of loss of lease payments are asserted against Taylor Consolidated, those
claims are subject to dismissal for the same reasons set forth below, and the Court finds no
prejudice to the non-movants by entry of judgment in its favor as well.
payments asserted by R & L Properties of Oak Grove, LLC (“Properties”) and R & L Builders
Supply, Inc. (“Builders Supply”) based on the expansion of the Builder Supply business.
For the following reasons, the motions for partial summary judgment on the loss of lease
payments are GRANTED.2
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On October 5, 2014, a collision occurred in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, when a Union Pacific
train collided with a 2013 Kenworth tractor with trailer and dolly (hereinafter “tractor-trailer”) which
had become lodged on the highway/railway grade crossing when the driver, Daniel Shackleford,
attempted to cross.3 The tractor-trailer was owned by College City and leased to Taylor Truck.
As a result of the collision, approximately 17 railroad cars and 2 locomotives left the railroad
tracks, cargo spilled, and a tank car leaked Argon onto surrounding property. Properties owns the
land located along Church Street in Mer Rouge4 (“the Church Street Land”) where at least some of
the cars and other debris came to rest after the collision. Builders Supply operates a building supply
and equipment facility on Andrews Lane in Mer Rouge.
The Court will address the pending motions for summary judgment related to the other
business loss claims asserted by Properties and Builders Supply separately. See [Doc. Nos. 181,
185, 196 & 208].
The facts surrounding the collision are set forth more fully in the Court’s previous
rulings in this matter.
The legal description of the land is as follows:
Lots 1 through 12, Block 23 inclusive of the T.H.B. Andrews Addition to Mer
Rouge, Louisiana, as per plat thereof recorded in the Office of the Clerk of Court
of Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, LESS AND EXCEPT the North 75 feet of Lots
10, 11, and 12, the North 75 feet of the East 5 feet of Lot 9, and the North 30 feet
of Lots 7, 8 and 9 of said Block 23.
On January 14, 2015, Union Pacific brought the instant suit against Shackleford, and the
entities that otherwise owned, leased, or had another interest in the tractor-trailer, Taylor Truck,
Taylor Logistics, Inc., and College City.5 On November 4, 2015, a lawsuit filed by Properties and
Builders Supply was consolidated with this lawsuit.
Approximately one year before the accident, Properties purchased the Church Street Land
for the purpose of expanding Builders Supply’s business operations. Prior to and at the time of the
accident, Builders Supply was storing used cross ties on the Church Street Land.
On February 27, 2017, the Court issued a Ruling and Judgment [Doc. Nos. 287 & 288],
finding that there was no valid lease of the Church Street Land from Properties to Builders Supply
and dismissing any claims asserted by Builders Supply for damage to the Church Street Land. The
Court allowed Builders Supply to proceed with any claims for damages to cross ties it had stored on
the Church Street Land with Properties’ permission.
In the instant motions, Union Pacific and its contractors, Prewett and Hulcher, as well as the
Taylor Entities move for summary judgment on the business claims asserted by Properties and
Builders Supply. The motions have been fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may move for summary judgment,
identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment
Union Pacific, Builders Supply, and Properties all later amended to assert claims against
the Robert G. Taylor Irrevocable Trust and against Robert G. Taylor, individually and as trustee
of the Robert G. Taylor Irrevocable Trust. Those claims have since been dismissed either with or
without prejudice and are no longer pending in this Court.
is sought. The 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.” The
moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying
portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v.
Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A party asserting
that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of
materials in the record . . . ). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would
affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that
a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
Loss of Lease Payments
Properties and Builders Supply jointly claim as an element of damages the alleged “loss of
increased lease payments as a result of anticipated expansion of [Builders Supply’s] business
operations.” [Doc. No. 1, ¶ XXXV]. The moving parties argue that Builders Supply has no right to
make this claim because the Church Street Land is owned by Properties. They argue further that
Properties cannot prevail on the business loss or loss of increased lease payments because such claim
is too speculative.
Properties and Builders Supply oppose the motions and argue that the motions are a duplicate
of the attack on the “valid” lease between the two entities, that materials were on hand for
construction, and that financing would be handled through an increase to Properties’ line of credit
with Mer Rouge State Bank.
The moving parties respond that, even if a valid lease had been found by the Court, the
amount of the lease was unknown and could not meet the standard for lost profits to a reasonable
degree of certainty. Finally, the moving parties argue that Randle McLarrin never mentioned a line
of credit as providing financing for the project in his three depositions and that an increase in a line
of credit is still a form of additional financing that had not been sought or the amount determined.
First, if the loss of increased lease payments could be established, such a claim would belong
to Properties, not Builders Supply. Builders Supply has no basis for asserting this claim, and the
motions for partial summary judgment are GRANTED as to Builders Supply.
Second, Properties could potentially assert a claim for loss of increased lease payments.
However, since these motions were briefed, the Court has determined that Properties and Builders
Supply failed to establish that there was a valid lease of the Church Street Land. [Doc. No. 287, pp.
8-11]. Properties cannot establish the loss to a reasonable degree of certainty, and the motions for
partial summary judgment are also GRANTED as to Properties.
For the foregoing reasons, the motions for partial summary judgment on Properties’ and
Builders Supply’s claim for loss of lease payments [Doc. Nos. 189, 195, 199 & 207] filed by
Prewett, Hulcher, the Taylor Entities, and Union Pacific are GRANTED, and these claims are
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
MONROE, LOUISIANA, this 9th day of May, 2017.
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