On May 14, TBS Attorney Chris Brain argued before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Swinomish Indian Tribe seeking to affirm the district court’s ruling that the Tribe may pursue injunctive relief against BNSF Railway. Watch the oral argument live here.
In 1991, as part of a settlement of litigation between the railroad and the Tribe for the railroad’s trespass over the Tribe’s Reservation, the Tribe consented to an easement issued by the Department of the Interior that limited the number of trains and cars allowed to cross the reservation daily. In April 2015, the Tribe sued BNSF for violating the terms of the easement after it learned that BNSF was running four times as many cars over the line than permitted and sought injunctive relief to hold the railroad to its agreement. The district court held the Tribe could seek injunctive relief. BNSF appealed to the 9th Circuit claiming that injunctive relief would interfere with its common carrier duties to shippers and that the remedy was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board.
For more information on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, click here.