City, Railroad Museum Put Hearing on Hold to Continue in Mediation

Guess I won't be getting a parking ticket near the George Allen next Monday, when the city of Dallas and the Museum of American Railroad's attorneys were scheduled to meet back in Judge Martin Hoffman's courtroom for the injunction hearing. According to First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers, the two parties have agreed to extend mediation, which began with a daylong session earlier this week with Paul Salzberger. Two weeks ago, the city's attorney handling the case against the museum, which Dallas wants out of Fair Park by August 1, said he didn't expect mediation would yield significant results.

Bowers won't say much about what took place during mediation: "We have narrowed our differences somewhat, but the differences are still considerable." That's it. But he does say the injunction hearing has been postponed and will be rescheduled for later in the week.

I've left a message for the museum's attorney, William Brotherton, to get his perspective on how mediation's going and will update as soon as I hear back. And, regarding Brotherton, this I did not know: He's an actor who played a "disgruntled railroad worker" in Heavens Fall, which starred Tim Hutton and David Strathairn. He's also the author of the book Burlington Northern Adventures: Railroading in the Days of the Caboose.

Update at 11:07 a.m.: Brotherton says mediation will resume on Wednesday, and that Hoffman's TRO has been extended till the injunction hearing is rescheduled. And he, like Bowers, thinks progress has been made -- though, he says, "I thought we were a little closer [than Bowers does], but it's good to know the city feels that way."

I asked if he think this can be resolved without a trial. "Time will tell," he says with a laugh. "Both parties want the same thing. There ought to be a way to resolve this, but who knows? Dallas is a bg city with big resouces and a lot of attorneys, and the museum's a nonprofit trying to preserve heritage. It's not in the litigaiton business. Obviously, if it's the city's intention to beat the museum down they may win at that, but it's not in the best interest of the citizens of Dallas."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky