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Bnsf Railway Company v. San Joaquin Valley Railroad Company

August 28, 2012

BNSF RAILWAY COMPANY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY RAILROAD COMPANY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT AND DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND ANSWER AND SUPPLEMENTAL COUNTERCLAIMS Doc. # 251

Currently before the court are the motion for entry of judgment by plaintiff BNSF Railway Company ("Plaintiff" or "BNSF") and a pleading titled "Motion for Leave to Amend San Joaquin Valley Railroad Company's Answer to Amended Complaint and Supplemental Counterclaim," Doc. # 251, (hereinafter, the "Motion to Amend") by defendant San Joaquin Valley Railroad Company ("Defendant" or "SJVR"). In previous orders the court granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff as to the counterclaims alleged by Defendant against Plaintiff. See Doc. # 231 and Doc. # 246. In both orders, the court requested that the parties identify any issues that remain to be adjudicated between the parties that were raised in Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint ("FAC") or in Defendant's Answer and Amended Counterclaims ("Counterclaims"). For the reasons that follow, the court will order entry of judgment in favor of Plaintiff in this action and close the case. Defendant's Motion to Amend will be correspondingly denied.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The FAC was filed on November 6, 2009. Doc. # 85. SJVR's Answer and Supplemental Counterclaim and the answer of co-defendant Tulare Valley Railroad ("TVRR") were both filed on November 30, 2009. On January 11, 2010, SJVR filed amended counterclaims against BNSF, but the amended counterclaims were stricken for violation of Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Doc. # 178. On March 8, 2010, BNSF filed a motion for summary judgment as to SJVR's Counterclaims. On the same date, SJVR filed a cross-motion for summary judgment as to BNSF's claims and as to its own Counterclaims. As the court previously noted, SJVR's Counterclaims and BNSF's claims are essentially mirror-images of each other. Both claims and counterclaims pertain to the duties of the parties under a set of agreements beginning with the 1992 Agreement and as thereafter amended by the parties in the 1994 Letter. TVRR also filed a motion for summary judgment on March 8, 2010. TVRR sought summary judgment on the ground it was not a party to the dispute between the other two parties.

On September 30, 2010, SJVR filed a motion to amend its counterclaim against BNSF; primarily for the purpose of adding tort claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Doc. # 179. That motion was denied by the Magistrate Judge on December 14, 2010. Doc. # 193. After reconsideration, the motion was again denied on August 2, 2011. On April 18, 2012, the court issued a memorandum opinion and order dismissing TVRR from the action and granting summary judgment in favor of BNSF on BNSF's motion for summary judgment. Doc. # 231. SJVR thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration, Doc. # 232, which was denied by order of the court on June 13, 2012. Doc. # 246.

On June 6, 22, 2012, BNSF moved for entry of judgment. Since the motion was pursuant to the court's orders of April 18 and June 13, the court infers that BNSF found no remaining issues or defenses needing decision. SJVR filed an opposition to BNSF's motion for entry of judgment on July 13, 2012, and filed the instant Motion for Leave to Amend, Doc. # 251, on July 16, 2012. SJVR's instant Motion for Leave to Amend seeks to allege counterclaims against BNSF that arise from damages SJVR alleges it suffered from conduct by BNSF occurring more recently than the time-frame of events alleged in the FAC. Following complete briefing by the parties on both motions, the court vacated the date set for oral argument and took both motions under submission on August 17, 2012. On August 14, 2012, SJVR filed a new action against BNSF alleging the same conduct and damages that SJVR seeks to allege in its Motion to Amend. The new case is numbered 12-cv-1321.

DISCUSSION

SJVR's opposition to BNSF's motion for entry of judgment is based in part on the court's observation that the motions for summary judgment did not appear to seek summary adjudication of the claims set forth in Plaintiff's FAC but rather adjudication of SJVR's counterclaims which, as noted, are essentially the mirror images of BNSF's claims. In particular, SJVR contends that the court's orders of April 18 and June 13 left unresolved:

1. The legal construction of paragraphs 1(c), 29, 30 and 31 of the 1992 Marketing

Agreement.

2. BNSF's allegation in its FAC of SJVR's alleged breach of the 1992 Agreement.

3. BNSF's alleged damages resulting from the alleged breach of the 1992 Agreement.

4. SJVR's alleged breach of the 1994 Letter Agreement and BNSF's alleged damages arising therefrom.

5. BNSF's compliance after July 2008 with Paragraph 31 of the 1992 Agreement.

6. The rights and interests under the 1992 Agreement that were ...


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