WYOMING MAN FIGHTS FEDS' ATTEMPT TO DISMISS LAWSUIT
August 1, 2011 - For Immediate Release
DENVER, CO. A Wyoming man today fought against a motion by federal lawyers to dismiss a lawsuit he filed with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., in which he seeks “just compensation” for the use of his private property as a federal trail. Marvin M. Brandt of Fox Park, Wyoming, who claims title to both a railroad right-of-way and a road that accesses his property, asserts that, but for a federal rails-to-trails law, an easement once owned by a railroad would have reverted to him. Mr. Brandt argues the land claimed by the United States was used as a railroad right-of-way from 1904 until 1995, when the railroad abandoned it; all tracks and ties were removed by 2000. The land subject to a railroad right of way had been conveyed to Mr. Brandt in 1976; the United States had retained no interest in it. Nonetheless, a Wyoming federal district court ruled that the easement reverted to the United States for use as a trail. In October 2009, the Court of Federal Claims stayed Mr. Brandt’s case pending his appeal of the Wyoming court ruling. On June 29, 2011, the federal government asked that Mr. Brandt’s case be dismissed based on two recent court rulings.
“Because the United States dragged our client into court, the cases do not apply,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation.
On February 25, 1904, pursuant to the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act, the Laramie, Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad Company filed with the U.S. Department of the Interior and, thus, in 1908, acquired a 200-foot-wide 66-mile-long right-of-way from Laramie, Wyoming, to the Colorado State line. The railroad operated until September 1995 and, in May 1996, the railroad’s owner filed a Notice of Intent to Abandon Rail Service from near Laramie, Wyoming, to the Colorado State line. The track and ties were removed in 1999 and 2000 and service terminated at the end of 2003.
The land along the railroad right-of-way was reserved from the public domain by presidential proclamation and became part of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Thus, private land areas in Albany, Fox Park, and Mountain Home along the right-of-way were acquired after creation of the railroad and are subject to it. At Albany, private lots were platted over the right-of-way and the land conveyed subject to the railroad. Abandonment of the railroad right-of-way thus creates a title conflict between these ownerships and the effects of the 1988 Rails-to-Trails Act. Mr. Brandt owns 83 acres patented to him on February 18, 1976, as part of an exchange with the Forest Service.
In April 2005, the Forest Service issued a notice of its plans to convert the railway into a public trail. On July 14, 2006, the United States sued Mr. Brandt and others. The Wyoming federal district court ruled April 8, 2008.
Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in metropolitan Denver, Colorado.
Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a nonprofit,
public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right
to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and economic freedom. It is an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) entity
incorporated in the State of Colorado. Csontributions
to Mountain States Legal Foundation are tax deductible.
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