The decision of U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon – ordering CBP to halt the imposition of fines against the Union Pacific railroad in their long-running dispute over when the railroad becomes responsible for contraband found on their trains – comes as very welcome news.
In my view, it was preposterous for CBP’s lawyers to seek multi-million dollar fines against the railroad for activities occurring in Mexico – activities over which they had no control. Even worse was the lawyers’ attempt to fine the railroad and seek forfeiture of the train itself for illegal activity that occurred on portions of Union Pacific trains while CBP officers had halted them to conduction inspections. CBP, in essence, wanted Union Pacific to pay exorbitant fines for the logical consequences of CBP’s own inept procedures.
Union Pacific was right to fight CBP’s outrageous attempt to confiscate their treasury and seize their rail cars. The only thing wrong with the news stories about Judge Bataillon’s ruling was that they didn’t say whether the judge required the government to repay Union Pacific for the millions of dollars in lawyer’s fees and other transaction costs in prosecuting their case.
DHS lost their case because their legal position was untenable. The ruling in favor of Union Pacific shows that justice can indeed prevail. I, for one, hope the Department of Justice chooses to let it stand without filing an appeal.