Fancy Little Train

04.22.2002
The National Law Journal
By Gail Diane Cox

Chef Kelly Macdonald may want to start substituting bouillon cubes for glace viande on the Napa Valley Wine Train, given the $4.3 million settlement the train is paying to a couple who own a trailer park on its route.

Victor and Pamela Smith objected when their flood control district invoked eminent domain for a "substitute condemnation" that would give nearly two acres of theirs to the Wine Train for a mere $2.1 million. They hired Michael G. Thornton of San Francisco's Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott,who argued that smoked chevre notwithstanding, the train has more in common with Disneyland tour trams than with Union Pacific.

(It probably didn't hurt that the California Public Utilities Commission concluded last June the Wine Train is a tourist attraction, not a public utility.)

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