More than 40 landowners in Chesterfield and Darlington Counties, South Carolina have filed their inverse condemnation claims against the federal government. These landowners own land abutting a 12.8-mile right-of-way extending from Cheraw to Society Hill, SC.
The Cheraw & Darlington Railroad originally acquired this rail line in early 1853. The railroad was subsequently acquired by South Carolina Central Railroad Company (the Railroad) in 1987.
By 2009, the Railroad stopped using the line for railroad purposes. Under South Carolina law, once the Railroad abandoned the line, the landowners (and their successors) should have owned their land free and clear of any easements.
On February 3, 2012, 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 a trail operator 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 South Carolina landowners filed their claims for compensation on January 2, 2014. The government has agreed to its liability and the parties are scheduled to begin the appraisal stage this autumn. 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.