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Professional background
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Sandra L.Brown

PartnerExecutive Committeemoc.eniHnospmohT@nworB.ardnaS
Washington, D.C.

O 202.263.4101

Sandra L.Brown


Focus Areas

  • Representation of a coalition of county governments in a 43-mile rail construction project to enhance economic development including shepherding through the federal construction approval process and National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) review and assisting the client in obtaining P3 funding for the project.
  • Counsel to crude oil owner and railcar lessee on regulatory, and commercial issues related to crude-by-rail and derailment liability.
  • Counsel to clients on National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) investigations.
  • Counsel to clients on tank car regulations including Federal Railroad Administration (“FRA”) enforcement actions and judicial review of federal actions that exceed their authority under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (“HMTA”) or are otherwise arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with the law imposed on the federal agency.
  • Representation of petroleum product companies in providing legal assessment of the risks and duties attendant with rail and/or pipeline movement of various petroleum-based products.
  • Advise tank car owners, lessors and lessees regarding retrofit requirements and other FRA and PHMSA regulations.
  • Counsel and implement construction and operation of rail line projects for clients to transport coal and other bulk commodities, including securing necessary regulatory and environmental authorization from the Surface Transportation Board, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • Advising various energy companies in contract negotiations throughout the logistics chain in crude-by-rail industry.
  • Representing a shipper owned railroad in one of the largest rail abandonments including application of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) and the National Trails System Act, 16 USC § 1247(d) (Trails Act).
  • Advising major fuel supplier on Carmack Amendment liability for a derailment in multi-carrier movement of hazardous materials.
  • Provide counsel to a Midwest energy company in developing and implementing a transportation and coal supply strategy designed to establish or enhance competitive coal transportation alternatives with one such strategy alone resulting in $15 million a year savings for the company.
  • Provide strategic counsel to several leading power companies in North America. Representation includes: review, assessment, and negotiation of transportation, fuel and related agreements, along with counsel on all related fuel strategies including regulatory issues, rail competition issues, rate and fuel surcharge challenges at the STB and courts, derailments, coal dust, embargoes, force majeure implications and service and reliability issues.
  • Representation of a West Coast port on the acquisition of 134-mile rail line through the “Feeder Line” process at the Surface Transportation Board to preserve the long-term connection to national rail system for domestic and international trade, including counsel on the financing and P3 funding for the rebuilding and ongoing operation of the rail asset.
  • Counsel to aggregates and other bulk commodity shippers on issues such as commodity exemptions, federal preemption and the common carrier obligation as it relates to rail transportation.
  • Prepare testimony, provide legal analysis and lead discovery process for railroad and shipper clients in numerous major rail merger proceedings and other STB proceedings.
  • Litigation and advocacy counsel to railroads, citizen groups, utility companies and state and local governments on appellate review of agency decisions in federal courts.
  • Provide legislative and policy counsel for railroads, state and local governments, and other entities on transportation issues, including the successful obtainment of Federal appropriations for transportation projects.
  • “Preparing for STB’s Hearing on Rail Demurrage & Accessorial Charges,” Thompson Hine Webinar, April 2019
  • “Update on STB activities: Times they are a-changin’,” National Coal Transportation Association, 42nd Annual Meeting and Conference, September 2016
  • Panelist, “Fuel Flexibility and Balance,” National Coal Transportation Association, 42nd Annual Meeting and Conference, September 2016
  • “STB Update,”  National Coal Transportation Association, April 2015
  • Roundtable Discussion on Coal Dust Mitigation, National Coal Transportation Association, April 2010
  • Testimony at Surface Transportation Board’s Hearing: Renewed Petition, Western Coal Traffic League, Regarding Railroad Sale or Lease Agreements and “Paper Barriers,” STB Ex Parte No. 575, July 2006
  • “Something’s Gotta Give – Where do Shippers and Railroads Go from Here?” National Coal Transportation Association, April 2006
  • “Fuel Procurement Management: Supply, Stockpile & Transportation Administration,” American Coal Council, October 2004
  • “Rail Transportation Rates,” Virginia Conference on World Trade, October 2003
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016 to 2024 for Railroad Law and Transportation Law; named the Best Lawyers® 2021 Transportation Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Washington D.C.
  • Recognized in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Transportation, Nationwide, 2012 to 2024
  • Recommended in The Legal 500 for Transportation: Rail and Road, 2020 to 2024; listed in The Legal 500 since 2018
  • Selected to the Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers list in Transportation/Maritime 2013 to 2015

Professional Associations

  • American Coal Council, member, 2002 to 2008
  • Association for Transportation Law Professionals, 1997 to present; ATLP Secretary, 2004 to 2005; ATLP Program Committee Chair, 2003 to 2004; D.C. chapter president, 2002 to 2003
  • National Coal Council, member by appointment of U.S. Secretary of Energy, 2004 to 2007

Community Activities

  • Member of the Ambassadors Council for N Street Village, 2015 to present
  • Special Olympics Basketball Coach, 1996 to 2016


  • Ohio Northern University, J.D., 1993
  • Goshen College, B.A., 1990

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland
  • District of Columbia
  • Ohio (inactive)

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. Supreme Court
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