Mandamus is one of the old writs (a form of court order) with its roots in England 500 or more years ago. Today it means a court order to a government entity telling it to perform its duty when it has failed to do so or to correct an improper exercise of that duty. Here the judge decided that there will be no writ of mandamus to order the County to rescind its contract with the railroad. Score one for trains.
As to the third party beneficiary argument, that refers to when some party other than those who actually entered into the contract get some direct benefit under the contract. The towns are not parties to the. they didn't sign the contract -- the towns are arguing that the provision of the contract that says the County will consult the towns before reactivating the railroad makes them third party beneficiaries. Since the towns were not signatories to the contract so they, at best, can claim third party beneficiary status to be able to ask the court to enforce the contract -- that is, the court to order the County to consult the towns. It appears that the judge found that the towns did not have third party beneficiary status. Score 2 for the trains.
It would be interesting to see the complete order. But, in a nutshell, that's what happened.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 ::
Black River Railroad Historical Trust