260 U.S. 393
Defendant appealed from a decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which found that although defendant had valid contractual and property rights, the Kohler Act, 1921 Pa. Laws 1198, was a valid exercise of police power and allowed an injunction to be issued to prevent defendant from mining under plaintiffs' surface land.
OVERVIEW: Defendant appealed appellate court's decision for plaintiffs in plaintiffs' suit to enjoin defendant from mining under plaintiffs' house and removing the supports and causing subsidence. A deed granted plaintiffs the surface rights to certain land but reserved to defendant the right to mine all coal under the house. Plaintiffs argued that the Kohler Act, 1921 Pa. Laws 1198, extinguished defendant's right to mine under plaintiffs' surface land. The Court reversed.
The Court held that the Kohler Act was unconstitutional as a taking of defendant's rights under a valid contract. In order to protect themselves, plaintiffs should have contracted to acquire more than the surface rights.
The Kohler Act could not have been used to terminate the valid contractual rights defendant received, nor could the Act could be used to take defendant's contract rights without adequate compensation.
OUTCOME: The Court reversed the lower court's decision, finding that the Kohler Act was not a legitimate exercise of police power, but rather was an unconstitutional taking of defendant's contractual and property rights because it served to take away those valid rights without adequate and just compensation.
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