In late 2011, Jones Creek Investors, LLC filed suit against CSX Transportation and Columbia County, GA, alleging contamination and flooding as a direct result of a replacement of a culvert upstream. On April 6, 2015, U.S. District Court judge, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, granted summary judgment on all of the counts against CSX Transportation. The plaintiff sought damages in excess of $3 million.
Jones Creek alleged that the golf course floods every time it rains due to the sedimentary contamination of its water hazard pond directly related to an upstream culvert owned by CSX Transportation. The suit also blamed Columbia County for not enforcing the Clean Water Act and neglecting barren property, thus contributing additional runoff. Savannah Riverkeeper, Inc. was an additional plaintiff against Columbia County, alleging the pollution has caused a sandbar in the Savannah River, approximately 1.3 miles from the culvert.
The court granted summary judgment on all Clean Water Act claims due to the lack of proof the pond was “navigable waters” [Waters protected by CWA]. As for the state law claims, the court recognized that the United States Congress granted exclusive jurisdiction over rail transportation to the Surface Transportation Board, thus the court granted summary judgment on all state law claims regarding the culvert and CSX.
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