Property Law

They’re coming so fast, we can hardly keep up. Today, in Castillo v. United States, No. 19-1158 (Feb. 20, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit resolved a common issue in rails-to-trails takings cases: when a property owner holds title and her deed describes the land as bordering on a railroad line or other easement (or the property is described as a lot in a plat that shows the lot’s…
Check out the latest (and final) episode of the Institute for Justice’s “Bound by Oath” podcast. IJ’s John K. Ross was kind enough to ask us to be a guest on the show titled “Excessive Fines,” and our friend and colleague Bob McNamara and I sat down in Nashville to record our sound bytes.  The series (not simply a podcast, but more like an audio documentary) is about the Fourteenth Amendment, and covers (inter…
Here’s the latest in a long-running, multi-forum takings case about the development of affordable housing on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Last we saw, the District Court awarded nominal compensation ($1), after the jury concluded that the State of Hawaii took Aina Lea’s property. The parties cross-appealed: the State argues the district court should have granted the State’s JMOL on liability, while the property owner appealed the $1 judgment.  Today, the Ninth Circuit reversed the…
We’re doing lawyer things this week, so can’t do much blogging, so we’re going to just leave this here, the Court of Federal Claims’s Opinion and Order in the case seeking compensation for a taking by the “downstream” owners whose lands were flooded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  Short story: no property, no taking.  How does the following square with the same court’s (but a different judge’s)
It’s Friday (and Valentine’s Day), so we’ll make this quick, even thought this is one of those cases with a fact pattern that you just can’t digest quickly: In Day v. Idaho DOT, No. 45552 (Feb. 14, 2020), the Supreme Court of Idaho held that only the property owners at the time of the taking may assert an inverse condemnation claim. That, standing alone (pun intended), is not surprising. But skip forward to page 7…
Each of the three big presentation rooms was full at our recent ALI-CLE Eminent Domain & Land Valuation Litigation Conference in Nashville. Nearly 300 lawyers, judges, appraisers, professors, students, relocation experts, and others eminent domain professionals coming together for 3 days of programming and fellowship. I have uploaded all of the photos that I took during the conference here.  To celebrate another successful and enjoyable conference, we also signed the above commemorative poster from…
Check out these two amici briefs, just filed in a case we’ve been following, about what a property owner who is awarded just compensation in a state court eminent domain lawsuit is supposed to do if the local government that is ordered to pay the just compensation judgment … doesn’t.  The property owner sued the local government — a Louisiana Port District — in U.S. District Court, alleging a violation of 42 U.S.C. §…
Be sure to download and read this article, recently published in the Virginia Law Review by legal scholar Wanling Su with the deceptively simple title, “What is Just Compensation?“ The article delves into the history of ad quod damnum and concludes that “just” compensation means a jury must determine compensation. That’s an issue that we’ve addressed here before, but the Supreme Court has declined to decide.  Here’s the abstract: The Supreme Court…
You all know the movie trope of the good guy setting off an explosion and then coolly turning and (in slow-motion) walking away framed by the blast (so cleverly parodied above)? Well, here’s the judicial equivalent. In UGI Sunbury LLC v. 1.75 Acres, No. 18-3126 (Feb. 11, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals concluded that in a bench trial to determine valuation for the taking of property for a pipeline easement under the Natural Gas…