Transportation museum denied restraining order against railroad authority

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Transportation Museum has been denied in its request for a federal temporary restraining order against the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.

Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana denied the museum’s petition in a ruling issued Thursday.

The museum sought the order in an attempt to regain use of the Nickel Plate rail line in time to run excursion trains during next month’s Indiana State Fair.

Magnus-Stinson said the museum did not make “an adequate showing under applicable law that a temporary restraining order is warranted.”

The Noblesville-based museum and area officials have been wrestling over the future of the 37-mile railroad for months. Noblesville and Fishers are seeking to convert a section of the rail corridor into a pedestrian trail, but the museum argues the rails should remain and that it should be able to operate trains along it.

The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, the quasi-government entity that oversees the railroad, terminated its policy-of-use agreement with the museum in March 2016 amid concerns about the not-for-profit’s financial condition and maintenance of the tracks.

That meant the museum had to discontinue its popular State Fair Train and Polar Bear Express rides last year.

The port authority issued a request for proposals for a new operator of the track, and responses were received last month. Several groups submitted responses, including the transportation museum, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Railway Co. of Indianapolis, Hoosier Heritage Railroad Inc. of Fishers and Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad of Arcadia.

The authority had been expected to discuss the proposals Monday night. However, it delayed the discussion until next week.

Museum officials said a restraining order was needed to stop the port authority from destroying the rail tracks, evicting the museum from its home in Forest Park and granting approval to a new track operator through the RFP.

The museum sought an expedited order that would rescind the authority’s suspension of museum trains.

“If successful, the suit could allow the beloved State Fair Train, the Polar Bear Express Train and future excursion trains to run on the Nickel Plate tracks,” the museum said earlier this week.

Magnus-Stinson said the museum did not meet the requirements or follow the procedures necessary to obtain a restraining order.

The museum argued that it would suffer “imminent and irreparable injury if Hoosier Heritage is not restrained from prohibiting it from operating the 2017 State Fair Train.”

But the judge said the ongoing dispute between the parties is at least a year old and should have been addressed through other means instead of with an expedited order that would give Hoosier Heritage no notice or time to argue its case.

“Lack of time to give the other side notice is both disingenuous in this case and invalid,” she said.

The museum filed a tort-claim notice last month against the authority, Noblesville and Fishers. In it, the museum said it lost more than $350,000 in revenue because it couldn't operate the Polar Bear Express. It also says it lost another $150,000 when it was prohibited from operating the Indiana State Fair Train.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: Here are the two research papers: 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.