Our Experience

Our firm has experience handling cases asserting property rights of landowners, including litigation commonly referred to as "Rails-to-Trails" and litigation involving property rights of landowners adjacent to active railroad. Our practice in this area is national in scope.

We believe our firm has handled the highest number of Rails-to-Trails cases in the country, measured by the number of cases, landowners, parcels, and amount of compensation at issue.

Our attorneys bring Rails-to-Trails cases against the federal government in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., pursuant to the "Just Compensation" Clause of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. These cases are often but not always class actions. The purpose of these lawsuits is to obtain money for landowners from the federal government, as compensation for land that was taken by the federal government. Specifically, those who own land adjoining a railroad that has been authorized by the federal government to be converted to a trail, often have a claim for just compensation for the taking of their land. We have been very successful in proving landowners' claims, as the listing of cases below shows.

We monitor Rails-to-Trails conversions in every state, which has led to our being involved in cases involving land across the United States. Our firm has filed nearly 40 cases, involving land in 15 states. Our cases often involve oral arguments in Washington, D.C., but trials generally occur in the locale where the land is located.

A partial listing of Rails-to-Trails cases in which we have been involved are as follows:

  • Macy Elevator v. United States, 97 Fed. Cl. 708, 730 (2011) (Indiana); 105 Fed. Cl. 195 (2012) (Indiana)
  • Ybanez v. United States, 98 Fed. Cl. 659, 665-68 (2011) (Texas);  102 Fed. Cl. 82, 85-88 (2011) (Texas)
  • Raulerson v. United States, 99 Fed. Cl. 9, 11-12 (2011) (South Carolina)
  • Capreal v. United States, 99 Fed. Cl. 133, 144-146 (2011) (Massachusetts)
  • Gregory v. United States, 101 Fed. Cl. 203, 220-222 (2011) (Mississippi)
  • Jenkins v. United States, 102 Fed. Cl. 598, 606-13 (2011) (Iowa)
  • Buford v. United States, 103 Fed. Cl. 522, 531-33 (2012) (Mississippi)
  • Longnecker Property v. United States, 105 Fed. Cl. 393 (2012) (Washington)
  • Howard v. United States, 964 N.E.2d 779 (Ind. 2012) (Indiana); 2012 WL 3554451 (Fed. Cl. Aug. 16, 2012) (Indiana)
  • Rhutasel v. United States, 105 Fed. Cl. 220 (2012) (Iowa)
  • Adkins v. United States, No. 09-503 (Fed. Cl. July 10, 2012) (Iowa)
  • Thomas v. United States, 2012 WL 3800764 (Fed. Cl. Aug. 29, 2012) (Tennessee)
  • Sutton v. United States, 2012 WL 5194058 (Fed. Cl. October 18, 2012) (California)
  • Geneva Rock Products, Inc., 2012 WL 5866135 (Fed. Cl. November 16, 2012) (Utah)
  • Toscano v. United States, No. 08-910 (Fed. Cl. November 20, 2012) (Utah)

For more information about our Rails-to-Trails practice, contact J. Robert Sears at 314.231.2925 or call our property rights hotline at 888.235.6193.

Rails to Trails

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