Wells v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 16-56562 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting a motion to dismiss Union Pacific's counterclaims in class actions filed by landowners challenging the railroad's ability to lease land to Santa Fe Pacific Pipelines (SFPP). The panel rejected plaintiffs' contention that the panel should not reach the merits of the certified questions and declined to apply the doctrine of collateral estoppel. With respect to the first certified question, the panel held that the pre-1871 Acts, which Congress passed to aid in the construction of railroad lines, do not require a "railroad purpose." In regard to the second certified question, the panel held that Union Pacific has plausibly alleged that the pipeline serves such a purpose. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions to grant leave to amend.