Preseault v. United States case brief summary
100 F.3d 1525 (1996)
Plaintiff property owners instituted an
action against defendant United States for compensation due to a
taking of their land. The United States Court of Federal Claims
concluded that the United States was not liable under U.S.
Constitutional Amendment V and rendered judgment against the
property owners. The property owners appealed to a panel, which
affirmed the judgment of the claims court. The property owners
CASE FACTS The property owners sought review of
the panel's affirmance of the claims court's decision that the United
States did not owe the property owners' compensation for the taking
of their land.
On appeal, the court held that every exercise of
authority by the United States under the Rails-to-Trails Act did not
necessarily result in a compensable taking.
Neither the United States
nor the intervening defendant State demonstrated a valid reason why
the property owners were not entitled to compensation under The Fifth Amendment.
The fee simple title to the property
remained with the property owners, subject only to the burden of the
easements in favor of the railroad.
When the easements were granted
to the property owners' predecessors in title at the turn of the
century, the parties did not contemplate that a century later the
easements would be used for recreational hiking and biking trails.
The easements were limited by their terms and as a matter of law to
Furthermore, the railroad abandoned the easement.
This determination provided an alternative ground for concluding that
a governmental taking occurred.
The court reversed the order of the panel court and remanded the
matter to the claims court for further proceedings. Suggested law school study materials
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