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UNITED STATES v. REYNOLDS ET UX.

decided: February 24, 1970.

UNITED STATES
v.
REYNOLDS ET UX.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

Author: Stewart

[ 397 U.S. Page 14]

 MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

The United States brought this suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to condemn more than 250 acres of the respondents' land for a federal development known as the Nolin Reservoir Project located in that State. An important issue in the case was raised by the respondents' claim that 78 acres of the land, taken for construction of recreational facilities adjacent to the reservoir, had not been within the original scope of the project.*fn1 A jury

[ 397 U.S. Page 15]

     awarded the respondents $20,000 as just compensation for all the land taken. Upon an appeal by the respondents, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgment and ordered a new trial, finding that the District Judge in his instructions to the jury had erroneously referred to matters disclosed outside the jury's presence.*fn2 The trial and appellate courts were in agreement, however, in rejecting the Government's contention that the "scope-of-the-project" issue was for the trial judge to decide and should not, therefore, have been submitted to the jury at all. There being a conflict between the circuits on this question,*fn3 we granted certiorari to consider a recurring problem of importance in federal condemnation proceedings. 396 U.S. 814.

The Fifth Amendment provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.

[ 397 U.S. Page 16]

     And "just compensation" means the full monetary equivalent of the property taken.*fn4 The owner is to be put in the same position monetarily as he would have occupied if his property had not been taken.*fn5 In enforcing the constitutional mandate, the Court at an early date adopted the concept of market value: the owner is entitled to the fair market value of the property*fn6 at the time of the taking.*fn7 But this basic measurement of compensation has been hedged with certain refinements developed over the years in the interest of effectuating the constitutional guarantee. It is one of these refinements that is in controversy here.

The Court early recognized that the "market value" of property condemned can be affected, adversely or favorably, by the imminence of the very public project that makes the condemnation necessary.*fn8 And it was perceived that to permit compensation to be either reduced or increased because of an alteration in market value attributable to the project itself would not lead to the "just compensation" that the Constitution requires.*fn9 On the other hand, the development of a public project may also lead to enhancement in the market value of neighboring land that is not covered by the project itself. And if that land is later condemned, whether for an extension of the existing project or for some other public purpose, the general rule of just compensation requires that such enhancement in value be

[ 397 U.S. Page 17]

     wholly taken into account, since fair market value is generally to be determined with due consideration of all available economic uses of the property at the time of the taking.*fn10

In United States v. Miller, 317 U.S. 369, the Court gave full articulation to these principles:

"If a distinct tract is condemned, in whole or in part, other lands in the neighborhood may increase in market value due to the proximity of the public improvement erected on the land taken. Should the Government, at a later date, determine to take these other lands, it must pay their market value as enhanced by this factor of proximity. If, however, the public project from the beginning included the taking of certain tracts but only one of them is taken in the first instance, the owner of the other tracts should not be allowed an increased value for his lands which are ultimately to be taken any more than the owner of the tract ...


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