Montana Federal Court Holds Definition of 'Building' Does Not Extend to Mountain Tunnel


U.S. District Court for the District of Montana

In Mont. Rail Link, Inc. v. Travelers Indem. Co., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12811 (D. Mont. Feb. 9, 2011), the U.S. District Court of Montana held that the plain meaning of “building” did not extend to a tunnel running through a mountain, and thus a collapsed tunnel did not constitute “physical damage to property” as that phrase was defined in a first-party property policy.

In the spring of 2009, Montana Rail Link began a project to widen the Mullan Tunnel, through which trains travel on the Northwest Pacific Railroad line as they cross the Continental Divide. In July 2009, decomposed granite collapsed a section of the tunnel and buried the track. The collapse completely closed the tunnel and blocked rail traffic for 25 days.

Montana Rail submitted a first-party property claim to its insurer, Travelers Indemnity. Travelers argued that the damage resulting from the collapse was not “physical damage to property” as defined by the policy. The policy defined “physical damage to property” as “direct and accidental loss of or damage to rolling stock and their contents, mechanical construction equipment or motive power equipment, railroad tracks, roadbeds, catenaries, signals, bridges or buildings.”

Please see full update below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sedgwick LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Sedgwick LLP on:

JD Supra Readers' Choice 2016 Awards
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.