Fifth Amendment takings guru Robert Thomas has filed a case on behalf of a Mississippi property owner whose land was taken without compensation for a park built by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The case, Bay Point Properties v. Mississippi Transportation Commission, is now pending in the US Supreme Court, which will consider next month whether or not to hear this case. We hope it does.
Arent Fox’s Federal Takings law group filed an amicus
(friend of the court) brief in the Supreme Court urging the Court to overturn the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s taking of private property without “just compensation” in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Federal Takings’ amicus brief is available here
Federal Takings filed this amicus brief on behalf of an impressive group of property rights organizations and legal scholars, including the Cato Institute, National Federation of Independent Business, Reason Foundation, Southeastern Legal Foundation, National Association of Reversionary Property Owners, Property Rights Foundation of America, and renowned property law professors James Ely, Shelley Saxer, and Ilya Somin.
In this case, the state department of transportation built a public park on a private landowner’s property without compensating the owner. The state previously had a highway easement over the property and had built a highway bridge on the property. But Hurricane Katrina destroyed the bridge, and the state decided to move the highway and rebuild the bridge elsewhere. But instead of allowing the private landowner to use its land again, the state refused to allow the highway easement to terminate and built a public park on the private landowner’s property. To add insult to injury, even though the jury found the state had taken the land in violation of the Fifth Amendment, the state court judge only allowed the jury to award the landowner $500 in damages.
On his “InverseCondemnation.com” blog, Robert Thomas praised our amicus brief, which “was submitted by a stellar group of public interest organizations and legal scholars.” Robert discusses our argument that the Mississippi statute “deprived Bay Point of its right to have the jury determine just compensation for the taking.” Applied here, the right to trial by jury “means the jury, not the Mississippi legislature or Highway Commission, determines the value of that property Mississippi took from Bay Point. The Mississippi scheme compelling the jury to value that property the Highway Commission took from Bay Point assuming the land is already encumbered with the easement is contrary to the principle that the judicial, not legislative branch, determines just compensation. Mississippi’s statutory scheme, as applied here, invades and invalidates the jury’s role in deciding just compensation.”
Robert’s blog is available here