Thomas E. Hornish and Suzanne J. Hornish Joint Living Trust; Tracy Neighbors; Barbara Neighbors; Arul Menezes; Lucretia Vanderwende; Herbert Moore; Elynne Moore; Eugene Morel; Elizabeth Morel; Lake Sammamish 4257 LLC, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
King County, a home rule charter county, Defendant-Appellee.
and Submitted June 14, 2018 Seattle, Washington
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Washington Marsha J. Pechman, Senior District
Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:15-cv-00284-MJP
Wald (argued), Stewart Wald & McCulley LLC, St. Louis,
Missouri; Thomas S. Stewart and Elizabeth Gepford McCulley,
Stewart Wald & McCulley LLC, Kansas City, Missouri; for
J. Hackett (argued), King County Prosecuting Attorney's
Office, Seattle, Washington; Mallory L.B. Satre and Emily J.
Harris, Corr Cronin Michelson Baumgardner Fogg & Moore
LLP, Seattle, Washington; for Defendant-Appellee.
Patrick J. Schneider, Philip E. Paine, and Beth A. Clark,
Foster Pepper PLLC, Seattle, Washington, for Amicus Curise
BNSF Railway Company.
E. Breitenbucher, Riddell Williams P.S., Seattle, Washington,
for Amicus Curiae Puget Sound Energy Inc.
C. Zebrowski, Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Diego,
California; David P. Thoreson, Morrison & Foerster LLP,
San Francisco, California; Andrea Foster, General Counsel,
Rails to Trails Conservancy Inc., Washington, D.C.; for
Amicus Curiae Rails to Trails Conservancy.
Richard M. Stephens, Stephens & Klinge LLP, Bellevue,
Washington, for Amicus Curiae Sammamish Home Owners.
Before: MILAN D. SMITH, JR. and PAUL J. WATFORD, Circuit
Judges, and DOUGLAS L. RAYES, [*] District Judge.
panel affirmed the district court's summary judgment in
favor of King County, Washington, quieting title to a rail
corridor that the Surface Transportation Board had
"railbanked" pursuant to the Trails Act.
panel held that the action arose under federal law, and the
panel had jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331,
because the plaintiffs' state law claim necessarily
raised a federal issue that was actually disputed,
substantial, and capable of resolution in federal court
without disrupting any congressionally approved federal-state
panel held that the plaintiffs, landowners whose properties
abutted the rail corridor's boundaries, lacked both
Article III and statutory standing to bring their claim for a
declaratory judgment pursuant to Wash. Rev. Code §
7.24.020 because they lacked any property interests in the
corridor. The panel concluded that the County owned one
portion of the corridor in fee. In addition, the Trails Act
preserved the railroad easement and created a new easement
for trail use, and both easements were conveyed to King
County. The panel concluded that Washington's
"centerline presumption" did not apply.
panel held that the district court properly granted summary
judgment to and quieted title in King County because the
county possessed the railroad easement and the recreational
easement. The panel concluded that the easement was 100 feet
wide, with certain exceptions. The panel denied
plaintiffs' motion to supplement the record with new
evidence regarding the width of the corridor.
SMITH, CIRCUIT JUDGE
the Surface Transportation Board (the STB)
"railbanked" the portions of the Eastside Rail
Corridor (the Corridor) adjacent to or bisecting
Plaintiffs-Appellants' residential lots, pursuant to the
National Trails System Act Amendments of 1983 (the Trails
Act), 16 U.S.C. § 1247 et seq.,
Plaintiffs-Appellants filed suit in federal court seeking a
declaration of their property rights in the Corridor.
Plaintiffs-Appellants disputed the nature and scope of
Defendant-Appellee King County's railroad easement, and
the Corridor's width. In response, King County filed
counterclaims asking the court to (1) declare that the Trails
Act preserved the full scope of the original railroad
easement, and that the Corridor's width is 100 feet, and
(2) quiet title to the Corridor in King County. Both sides
moved for summary judgment. The district court denied summary
judgment to Plaintiffs-Appellants, dismissed their claims
with prejudice, and granted summary judgment to, and quieted
title to the Corridor in, King County. Plaintiffs-Appellants
timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1291, and we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Origins of the Corridor & Plaintiffs-Appellants'
1887, the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railway Company
(SLS&E), which later became part of BNSF Railway Company
(BNSF, and together with SLS&E, the Railroad), began to
construct the Corridor along the eastern shoreline of Lake
Sammamish. The SLS&E obtained the land that it needed for
the Corridor through various means, which gave the SLS&E
a collection of railroad easements and fee simple properties.
See Beres v. United States, 104 Fed.Cl. 408, 412
(2012) (hereinafter Beres III).
Plaintiffs-Appellants are landowners whose properties abut
the Corridor's boundaries (the precise location of which
the parties dispute). Plaintiff-Appellant the Thomas E.
Hornish and Suzanne J. Hornish Joint Living Trust
(Plaintiff-Appellant Hornish) owns property adjacent to a
portion of the Corridor that SLS&E obtained through a May
9, 1887 quitclaim deed executed by homesteader William
Hilchkanum and his wife. Hilchkanum later sold the remainder
of his property, and some part of that remainder interest is
now owned by Plaintiff-Appellant Hornish.
Tracy and Barbara Neighbors, Arul Menezes and Lucretia
Vanderwende, Lake Sammamish 4257 LLC, Herbert and Elynne
Moore, and Eugene and Elizabeth Morel (the Non-Hornish
Plaintiffs-Appellants) own properties that are adjacent to
other portions of the Corridor. The SLS&E completed
construction of the Corridor's tracks in March 1888, and
the Northern Pacific Railroad conveyed its property to Samuel
Middleton the following year. The Non-Hornish
Plaintiffs-Appellants' chains of title all originate with
The Railbanking Process
1997, BNSF conveyed all of its ownership interests in the
Corridor to The Land Conservancy of Seattle and King County
(TLC) through a recorded quitclaim deed. On June 11, 1997,
TLC initiated the "railbanking" process by
petitioning the STB for an exemption to allow TLC's
abandonment of the Corridor for active rail service. See
Land Conservancy of Seattle & King Cty.-Abandonment
Exemption-in King Cty., WA, No. AB-508X, 1997 WL 359085,
at *1 (S.T.B. June 23, 1997). As part of its petition, TLC
provided King County's Statement of Willingness to Assume
Financial Responsibility as the interim trail sponsor under
the Trails Act. Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry.
Co.-Abandonment Exemption-in King Cty., Wa, No. AB-6
(Sub-No. 380X), 1998 WL 638432, at *1 (S.T.B. Sept. 16,
1998). The STB granted the exemption on May 13, 1998. Then,
in September of 1998, the STB issued a Notice of Interim
Trail Use (NITU) to facilitate railbanking and interim trail
TLC and King County entered into an agreement formally
designating King County as the trail sponsor. The agreement
also conveyed to King County all of TLC's ownership
interests in the Corridor through a recorded quitclaim deed,
which described the precise property that was being conveyed.
King County then constructed a soft-surface hiking and biking
trail in the Corridor. More recently, King County has
prepared to construct a paved trail.
February 25, 2015, several of Plaintiffs-Appellants, among
others, filed suit to obtain a declaration of their rights
with regard to the Corridor and to quiet their title in the
Corridor. King County moved to dismiss the complaint for lack
of standing, arguing that the Plaintiffs-Appellants had
failed to demonstrate that they had any ownership interest in
the Corridor. While this motion was pending, the
Plaintiffs-Appellants sought leave to file a proposed amended
5, 2015, the district court granted King County's motion
to dismiss, and denied leave to file the proposed amended
complaint. The court determined that amendment would be
futile because the proposed amended complaint did not remedy
the standing defects of the original complaint. However, the
court gave the Plaintiffs-Appellants leave to file a
different amended complaint that would address the standing
problem. Plaintiffs-Appellants did so, filing the Amended
Complaint (AC). King County then answered and brought quiet
title and declaratory judgment counterclaims.
sides then filed motions for summary judgment. On April 20,
2016, the district court denied Plaintiffs-Appellants'
summary judgment motion, dismissed Plaintiffs-Appellants'
claims with prejudice, and granted summary judgment to King
County with regard to its declaratory judgment and quiet
title counterclaims. Plaintiffs-Appellants timely appealed.
review the district court's grant of summary judgment
de novo. King County v. Rasmussen, 299 F.3d
1077, 1083 (9th Cir. 2002). We "must determine, viewing
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, whether there are any genuine [disputes] of material
fact and whether the district court correctly applied the
relevant substantive law. All reasonable inferences from the
evidence must be drawn in favor of the nonmoving party."
Id. (citation omitted).
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 authorizes federal jurisdiction over all civil
actions "arising under" federal law. The Supreme
Court "has found that statutory term satisfied in either
of two circumstances. Most directly, and most often, federal
jurisdiction attaches when federal law creates the cause of
action asserted." Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner
& Smith Inc. v. Manning, 136 S.Ct. 1562, 1569
(2016). The parties agree that such is not the case here.
However, "even when 'a claim finds its origins'
in state law, there is 'a special and small category of
cases in which arising under jurisdiction still
lies.'" Id. (quoting Gunn v.
Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 258 (2013)). This case falls
within the latter category.
Supreme Court has explained, "a federal court has
jurisdiction of a state-law claim if it 'necessarily
raises a stated federal issue, actually disputed and
substantial, which a federal forum may entertain without
disturbing any congressionally approved balance' of
federal and state power." Manning, 136 S.Ct. at
1570 (alteration omitted) (quoting Grable & Sons
Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545
U.S. 308, 314 (2005)). "That is, federal jurisdiction
over a state law claim will lie if a federal issue is: (1)
necessarily raised, (2) actually disputed, (3) substantial,
and (4) capable of resolution in federal court without
disrupting the federal-state balance approved by
Congress." Gunn, 568 U.S. at 258. Jurisdiction
is proper "[w]here all four of these requirements are
met" because in such a case, "there is a
'serious federal interest in claiming the advantages
thought to be inherent in a federal forum,' which can be
vindicated without disrupting Congress's intended
division of labor between state and federal courts."
Id. (quoting Grable, 545 U.S. at 313). The
Supreme Court "ha[s] often held that a case 'arose
under' federal law"- meeting these
criteria-"where the vindication of a right under state
law necessarily turned on some construction of federal
law." Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal. v. Constr.
Laborers Vacation Tr. for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 9 (1983)
(citing Smith v. Kansas City Title & Tr. Co.,
255 U.S. 180 (1921); Hopkins v. Walker, 244 U.S. 486
(1917)); see also 14B Charles Alan Wright &
Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure
§ 3722 (4th ed. 2016) ("An important corollary to
the well-pleaded complaint rule is that the essential federal
element of the plaintiff's complaint must be supported
under one construction of federal law and defeated under
argue that the federal courts lack jurisdiction because a
Trails Act issue arises only as a defense. They liken this
case to Shulthis v. McDougal, 225 U.S. 561 (1912),
wherein the Court held that it had no jurisdiction over a
quiet title action simply because one party had "derived
his title under an act of Congress." Id. at
570. Plaintiffs-Appellants also posit that this case is
distinguishable from Rasmussen because there, King
County was the plaintiff alleging that its rights derived
from federal law, 299 F.3d at 1082, while here, King County
is a defendant and its assertion of rights ...