Federal Takings

Arent Fox's Eminent Domain & Property Rights Practice

Federal Takings

D.H. Kelley, et al. v. United States of America – No.1:15-cv-00924


D.H. Kelley, et al. v. United States of America – No.1:15-cv-00924

A group of Webster County, Kentucky, landowners have filed their inverse condemnation claims against the federal government.  These landowners own land abutting an 8.5 right-of-way extending from Blackford to Clay, KY.    

The rail line was originally constructed in the early 1900s.  The line went through several changes of ownership and was eventually acquired by the Western Kentucky Railway, LLC in 1995.  The Railroad stopped using the line for railroad purposes in 2005.  Under Kentucky law, once the Railroad abandoned the line, the adjacent landowners should have owned their land free and clear of the railroad easement. 

On October 12, 2011, the federal Surface Transportation Board issued an order (the Notice of Interim Trail Use or Abandonment, or NITU), which authorized the Railroad to negotiate with Webster County for trail use.  This federal order prevented the landowners from regaining their state law rights to the land.  And instead, the order allowed two new easements to be imposed on the property – one for recreational trail use, and another for future railroad use at anytime in the future.

The Webster County landowners filed their claims for compensation on August 24, 2015. The landowners now have a limited period of time to add additional landowners who wish to vindicate their Fifth Amendment rights to just compensation for the taking of their property.   Any additional landowners who are not already represented by counsel are encouraged to contact Arent Fox.

For more information about this case, please contact Lindsay Brinton.  


Add the Arent Fox Rails to Trails blog to your RSS feed reader.


Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.