'Victorious' couple wins CSX tracks crossing case

Friday, April 20, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

A Marshall County couple has won an 11-year court fight with CSX Transportation over a railroad crossing just north of Chapel Hill and on Wednesday the case was closed by the Chancery Court in Lewisburg.

"You are victorious today," C. Kelly Wilson of Second Avenue North, attorney for W.T. and Patsy Walker, told his clients in the second floor hall of Marshall County's Courthouse. "In the end, the process worked."

On Thursday, CSX Communications Director Carla Groleau said, "CSX respects the court's decision, and will act accordingly."

The court case stems from CSX raising rent for the track crossing from $25 annually to $649. The Walkers sued, asking the court to declare that an easement already existed for access to a public road. A jury concluded the easement contract was invalid because the crossing was needed for access to the Walkers' property. The property includes the Wilderness Faith Tabernacle on the west side of the tracks that are crossed for access from Nashville Highway.

Chancellor J.B. Cox granted the railroad a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the existence of the easement. The Walkers appealed. The state Court of Appeals agreed with the Walkers and Cox finalized the case Wednesday.

Cox had found that after 1911, an alternative access easement was created so the crossing wasn't necessary and was terminated during the years some time in the 1930s and as late as 1966. Among other reasons, the appeals court ruled that overturning a jury verdict must be done with "the strongest legitimate view of the evidence in favor of," in this situation, the Walkers.

The Walkers and his cousin, Larry Walker of Shady Grove near Fayetteville, however, are still aggravated, largely because it took 11 years to win and because their experience with the railroad, leads them to describe the corporation as monolithic and arrogant.

"'We're the railroad and we can ....for the rest of this story pick up a copy of the Marshall County Tribune