United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge
before me is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc.
27) filed by Plaintiff Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C.
(“Tennessee”) in this condemnation action
commenced under the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. 717 et
seq. Tennessee seeks summary judgment on certain claims
for damages by Defendant King Arthur Estates, LP (“King
Arthur”) which Tennessee argues are not recoverable as
just compensation under federal law. For the reasons that
follow, Tennessee's motion for partial summary judgment
will be granted in part and denied in part.
filed the Complaint in condemnation of property pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 71.1 against King Arthur on
or about July 31, 2012. (See Doc. 1). In the
Complaint, Tennessee sought to acquire a permanent easement
and temporary easements (the “Rights of Way”) on
properties (the “subject properties”) owned by
King Arthur in Pike County, Pennsylvania. (See id.).
Prior to the filing of the Complaint, Tennessee owned an
existing permanent easement of varying width across King
Arthur's property. (See id. at ¶ 15;
see also Doc. 3, ¶ 15).
October 2, 2012, a Stipulated Order was entered granting
Tennessee the right to access and possess the Rights of Way
as identified in the Complaint. (See Doc. 10).
Tennessee subsequently posted the bond as required in the
Stipulated Order and took access and possession of the Rights
of Way. (See Doc. 11).
the action was administratively reopened, (see Doc.
14), the parties engaged in discovery pertinent to the
determination of just compensation. (See,
e.g., Doc. 16). Following the close of discovery,
Tennessee filed the instant motion for partial summary
judgment and supporting documents on July 29, 2016.
(See Docs. 27-29). King Arthur's opposition was
timely submitted on September 2, 2016, (see Doc.
33), and Tennessee's reply brief in further support of
its motion was timely filed on September 20, 2016.
(See Doc. 38). Tennessee's motion for partial
summary judgment is thus ripe for disposition.
Pertinent Factual Background.
the course of discovery, the parties identified and deposed a
number of experts pertaining to the determination of just
compensation in this action. First, King Arthur retained John
McChesney (“McChesney”) as its appraiser to
provide a valuation of the subject properties. (See
Doc. 28 (Tennessee's Statement of Material Facts
(“Tennessee's SMF”)), ¶ 4; Doc. 33-1
(King Arthur's Statement of Material Facts (“King
Arthur's SMF”)), ¶ 4). According to McChesney,
the subject properties consist of eighteen (18) parcels
covering approximately 975 acres and were worth $3, 656,
000.00 prior to the taking of the Rights of Way.
(See Tennessee's SMF, ¶ 5; King
Arthur's SMF, ¶ 5). After the taking of the Rights
of Way, though, McChesney testified that the subject
properties are worth $1, 682, 000.00. (See
Tennessee's SMF, ¶ 7; King Arthur's SMF, ¶
7). Moreover, McChesney opined that the value of timber taken
from the property by Tennessee was $18, 411.00. (See
Tennessee's SMF, ¶ 9; King Arthur's SMF, ¶
9). McChesney also concluded that King Arthur suffered
additional damages as a result of the condemnation of the
Rights of Way, including professional fees in the amount of
$62, 798.00, development costs totaling $915, 408.00 and
timber replacement and reforestation costs of $159, 555.00.
(See Tennessee's SMF, ¶ 11; King
Arthur's SMF, ¶ 11). Additionally, McChesney
testified that the negative market impact as a result of the
taking of the Rights of Way equaled $1, 909, 160.00.
(See McChesney Dep., 97:25-98:9).
appraisal expert, Richard Drzewiecki
(“Drzewiecki”), opined that the pre-taking market
value of the subject properties was $4, 029, 000.00, while
the post-taking market value of the properties is $3, 884,
000.00. (See Drzewiecki report, 5). Drzewiecki
further opined that it would cost $57, 055.34 to reforest the
temporary workspace. (See id. at 66). Drzewiecki
also concluded that King Arthur suffered severance damages in
the amount of $44, 440.00 as a result of the pipeline
easement because “land immediately adjacent to the
pipeline will be somewhat less desirable after the imposition
of the easement and development of the line.”
(Id. at 65).
Weeks (“Weeks”), a civil engineer, was retained
by King Arthur to assess the adverse impacts associated with
the taking of the Rights of Way related to Tennessee's
installation of the pipeline. (See Weeks Dep.,
73:9-20). The adverse impacts identified by Weeks include the
construction of water bars, over-clearing and taking outside
of the permanent and temporary easements, and the impacts
associated with the future development of the property.
(See id. at 73:21-74:14).
Arthur retained Steven Vitale, PhD (“Vitale”), as
an expert to “provide technical analysis of the impact
of the gas main on the property.” (See Vitale
Dep., 54:3-6). Vitale was asked to assess the impact the
pipeline would have on the property in terms of its potential
for development. (See id. at 55:17-24).
Specifically, Vitale evaluated the impact of the pipeline on
properties to be constructed in the pipeline's vicinity.
(See id. at 56:14-15). James Leary
(“Leary”) was retained by King Arthur to appraise
the value of timber and replanting costs associated with the
Rights of Way and restoration of the temporary easements.
(See Tennessee's SMF, ¶ 28; King
Arthur's SMF, ¶ 28). And, lastly, Davis Chant
(“Chant”) was retained as King Arthur's
marketing, land development, and highest and best use
consultant. (See Tennessee's SMF, ¶ 38).
According to Chant, the Vitale report alters the highest and
best use of the subject properties and that the existence of
the pipeline seriously damages King Arthur's ability to
sell the properties. (See Id. at ¶ 39).
judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate when
“the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law.” Wright v.
Corning, 679 F.3d 101, 103 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting
Orsatti v. N.J. State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 482 (3d
Cir. 1995)). A fact is material if ...