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Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (RBMN) officials announced yesterday they will challenge a recent three-judge panel's ruling that affirmed a trial judge's decision to reject the company's lawsuit against the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority.
At issue is the process the rail authority used in 2014 when it sought proposals for a company to operate five short lines in eight central Pennsylvania counties. RBMN, which came in last in the authority's preliminary rankings, contended the process was designed to eliminate it from consideration, Pennlive.com reported.
In 2018, Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor rejected RBMN's challenge. Earlier this week, the three-judge Commonwealth Court affirmed Saylor's decision.
RBMN has also challenged the rail authority's structure, organization and expansions.
"Reading and Northern continues to believe that it is improper and illegal for government owned rail authorities to compete against privately owned companies in handling rail freight business," said Andy Muller Jr., owner and chief executive officer of RBMN, in a press release.
In response to the Commonwealth Court's decision this week, RBMN Attorney Larry Morgan said: "We are specifically disappointed in the court's apparent disregard of the very important question of whether a governmental entity with mighty governmental powers, immunities and tax exemptions can continue to grow and expand without any limit, while depriving private industries of business opportunities."
The trial court, early in the litigation, issued a ruling that deprived the railroad from presenting evidence to further support that argument, Morgan said.
"Since the appellate court did not address this very important question, among other suspected errors our attorneys are currently reviewing, we will next request a review of this decision by the full Commonwealth Court bench," he added.