A U.S. District Court refused Friday to throw out a lawsuit filed by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community against BNSF Railway.

The tribe sued the railway in April 2015, claiming that BNSF violated an agreement with the tribe by failing to disclose cargo of certain trains traveling through the Swinomish reservation, and by not correctly seeking approval for an increase in rail traffic, according to court documents.

“The court’s ruling today is a victory not just for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, but for all of Indian Country,” Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby said in a news release. “Again and again we have seen agreements with tribes ignored or just tossed aside when they are inconvenient. We are grateful that the court has affirmed that agreements with tribes must be honored.”

Signed in 1991, the agreement set a limit of one 25-car train traveling each direction per day.

According to court documents, BNSF exceeded its allotment of trains and did not seek permission from the tribe until after fact.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH


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