Arent Fox has been appointed class counsel to represent more than 30 McMinn County, Tennessee landowners who have filed their inverse condemnation claims against the federal government. These landowners own land abutting a 6.4-mile long right-of-way extending from Englewood to Athens, Tennessee.
The Nashville and Tellico Railway Co. originally acquired the right-of-way in 1889, and the Louisville and Nashville Co. acquired the line in 1928. The CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) subsequently acquired the rail line in 1986. Under Tennessee law, once the Railroad abandoned the line, the landowners (and their successors) should have owned their land free and clear of any easements.
By 2008, CSXT had abandoned the right of way. On May 1, 2009, the Railroad filed its request to abandon the right-of-way. On May 26, 2009, McMinn County filed a request for trail use for the right-of-way.
On August 12, 2009, 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 McMinn County for trail use. This federal order — the NITU — prevented the landowners from regaining their state law rights to the land. And instead, the federal 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 Railroad is currently in negotiations with McMinn County and trail construction is underway.
The Tennessee landowners filed their claims for compensation on January 31, 2014. The landowners now have until September 8, 2014 to join any other neighboring landowners who wish to vindicate their constitution rights to just compensation for the government’s taking of their property. Counsel for the landowners continues to meet with all interested McMinn County landowners to discuss their claims for compensation in this case.
For more information about this case, please contact Lindsay Brinton.