Finding Out Who Owns A Piece of Infrastructure, Part Two
January 4, 2012 Leave a comment
When someone is injured because they tripped and fell on a sidewalk, or in a field, or near a school, the immediate answer to who was responsible is not always readily apparent. For example, cities often claim that the sidewalk is jointly controlled with a homeowner. Some cities will cross-complain against the homeowner or other landowner. Some will just assert that the homeowner is responsible and wait for the person injured, typically the plaintiff, to make a claim or file suit against the property owner. The public entities that I have worked for were reluctant to cross-complain against a single family landowner because it could create a political problem. Sometimes, a plaintiff, for a variety of reasons, does not want to sue one organization or another. Since economic damages are joint and severable, that may be a judgment call a plaintiff is willing to take. Another reason may be that the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s lawyer has failed to comply with the Government Claims Act. Then, the defendant may wish to file a Government Claim and then file a cross-complaint for indemnification.
Yestersday, I discussed the probable owners of a parcel behind my office including the related infrastructure. When we left off, we found clues that it was owned and/or controlled by SANBAG and possibly BNSF, the successor to AT&SF.
- Redlands Industrial Spur Utility Pole Without Wires
Here are some pictures that I took. This shows a close-up of one of the many utility poles on this portion of the Redlands Industrial Spur without wires. There is no indication on the pole, that I could find, what it was used for, but on the cross arm, you can find some old insulators.
Here is a view of the line of utility poles that lack working wires on the Redlands Industrial Spur in this location:
- Redlands Industrial Spur With Tracks and Utility Poles
You can see Mount San Antonio in the background, and my red office building roughly in the middle. To the left is Redlands Boulevard, formerly Highway 99. Whether it is dedicated public right of way or not, there is evidence that people use the area between the trees and the utility poles for walking. I saw one person when I was back there.
- Redlands Industrial Spur Track, Missing Ties
You can see the track is elevated from the rest of the parcel. To the north (generally) of the tracks is a culvert. There is evidence that the track shown above was washed out by flooding. The rails remain, but the ties are resting a few feet below.
Most of the infrastructure out there does not have an indicia of ownership. For example, the utility poles lack a number like you might see on the joint poles along West Colton Avenue. One exception is at the utility box closest to Tennessee. On its side it says:
- BNSF Emergency Call
Does that mean that BNSF controls this parcel, or the infrastructure on the parcel? Not necessarily, but it is evidence of the fact. The have an easement for rail freight. The property, according to the information discussed yesterday is owned by SANBAG. They acquired it from the BNSF’s predecessor, AT&SF in 1993. BNSF was not formed until 1996, yet the stencil says BNSF, not AT&SF. There is a toll-free phone number under “Call” but it is difficult to read.
The basic investigation (site visit, review of easily obtainable information online) of the property suggests that this infrastructure is owned by SANBAG and/or BNSF, but additional investigation would need to be done, either through public available information, or through discovery if a lawsuit was filed to reach a definitive conclusion.
The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.