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News Notices & Publications: Northumberland County judge rules in favor of SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority in lawsuit


Northumberland County judge rules in favor of SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority in lawsuit

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Regional Spotlight


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A recent court ruling has derailed the latest efforts by the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (RBMN) to challenge a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority (JRA) for a new railroad operating agreement for the JRA rail lines.


On Oct. 17, the Northumberland County Court of Common Pleas awarded summary judgment in favor of the JRA in a lawsuit filed by RBMN against the JRA and other proposers in the RFP process. The court’s decision dismissed all open claims in the case; the majority of RBMN’s claims were dismissed earlier in the litigation. Oral argument on the matter was heard before the court on Oct. 2.


In the lawsuit, RBMN challenged the first phase of the RFP, which was issued in 2014. Through the RFP, the JRA sought proposals from qualified operators for the JRA’s 200-plus miles of rail lines. These regional rail lines serve as a major engine for bolstering industrial development throughout the eight-county region. 


JRA Chairman and Union County Commissioner John Showers said, “The JRA’s ownership and oversight of the lines, together with operations handled by a private operator, has been recognized as a model for public-private partnership. It has preserved vital rail infrastructure in the region for the past 30 years, and we look forward to continuing to drive development in the region.”


RBMN sought to challenge the RFP process on a number of grounds, with its latest case centered on its claims that the process was established in a manner designed to eliminate it for consideration. That was not so, according to the JRA, and the court agreed.


In addition to failing to provide required information as part of its RFP submission, RBMN failed to provide sufficient evidence that it was treated unfairly in the RFP process to warrant holding a trial. In addition, RBMN’s representatives testified that their ultimate goal – before, during and after the RFP process – was to force the JRA rail lines to be privatized. For these reasons, the court agreed with the JRA in dismissing RBMN’s challenges. 


JRA Executive Director Jeff Stover stated that he was pleased with the ruling. “This was fair and reflected the thoughtful consideration of the issues that the court demonstrated throughout the litigation,” Stover said.

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SEDA-COG SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority lawsuit


Created at 10/23/2018 10:41 AM by Liz Regan
Last modified at 10/23/2018 10:41 AM by Liz Regan