BNSF Railway Court Ruling

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
PDF_icon_sm Court's Ruling

The Tribe filed a request that the Federal Court grant partial judgment in the Tribe’s favor without need for a trial. The Tribe submitted extensive written arguments and evidence, and presented oral arguments to the Court on December 15, 2016.

In the meantime, in response to the Tribe’s request for partial judgment the Tesoro and Shell refineries, along with BNSF, filed a new case with the Surface Transportation Board, a Federal agency in Washington, D.C. Tesoro, Shell and BNSF asked that the Board issue an immediate ruling on one of the same issues that the Tribe had asked the Court to decide. In November 2016, the Board decided it would not accept the requests by Tesoro, Shell and BNSF. As a result, the Tribe’s case in Federal Court continued.

On January 13, 2017, the Federal Court ruled that the Tribe is entitled to a declaration that BNSF breached the terms of the Easement Agreement by failing to make annual disclosures regarding the cargo it was carrying across the Reservation and by increasing the number of trains and cars traversing the reservation without first seeking to obtain the Tribe’s written consent. The Court ruled that the Tribe’s claims for damages, compelled disclosures, and an adjustment in rent are not preempted by the Federal law that regulates railroads. However, the Court ruled that an injunction limiting the type of cargo or the number of trains or cars crossing the Reservation was not available in Federal Court. The Tribe has requested reconsideration of this portion of the Court’s ruling.

PDF_icon_sm Friday, September 11, 2015 - Federal Judge Allows Swinomish Tribe Lawsuit Against Bakken Crude Oil Trains to Proceed (Press Release)

BNSF Railway Court Ruling


Stephen LeCuyer
(360) 466.1058