Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Preseault v. United States case brief

Preseault v. United States case brief summary
100 F.3d 1525 (1996)

CASE SYNOPSIS
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 appealed.

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.

DISCUSSION

  • 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 railroad purposes. 
  • Furthermore, the railroad abandoned the easement. 
  • This determination provided an alternative ground for concluding that a governmental taking occurred.


CONCLUSION
The court reversed the order of the panel court and remanded the matter to the claims court for further proceedings.

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