Federal Takings

Arent Fox's Eminent Domain & Property Rights Practice

Federal Takings



US Supreme Court Rules for Missouri Church in Civil Liberties Case

On June 26, the US Supreme Court sided with a Missouri church in a closely watched First Amendment case, ruling that a church cannot be excluded as the recipient of a government program simply because it is a religious organization. The decision can be found here.


Bratcher v. United States, CFC No. 15-986 L

The government has refused to pay adequate damages to eleven landowners whose property was taken for a rail-trail conversion in Lexington, Missouri. Thus, the landowners will be presenting their claims to a federal judge during a trial the week of July 18 in Kansas City.

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


Bratcher v. US No. 15-986 L

The government has recently agreed to its liability for taking landowners’ property along a 2.91 mile-long railroad corridor in Lexington, Missouri. The abandoned railroad corridor was last used by Union Pacific Railroad company before 2009. Under Missouri law, upon the Railroad’s abandonment, the corridor should have reverted to the adjacent landowners. Instead, however, the federal Trails Act allowed the City of Lexington to purchase this right-of-way from the Railroad. Lexington is in the process of developing a hiking and biking trail across this land. 


Case Update: Abbott v. United States

More than 350 landowners have filed their inverse condemnation claims against the federal government in Benton, Cole, Franklin, Gasconade, Maries, Miller, Morgan, Osage and Pettis Counties. We have submitted the claims of these 350 owners to the Court and the government is currently reviewing them. We are also filing additional claims on behalf of other eligible landowners.


Appraisal Pending: Mary A. Baker, et al v. US, Case No. 1:14-cv-00548-NBF

The government has admitted its liability for taking more than 15 properties in Cass, Pettis, Johnson, and Henry County, Missouri. The parties have retained a joint appraiser to value the amount of damages the government must pay the owners of these properties. The appraiser expects to be finished with the appraisal reports within the next 60 days and the landowners should be paid by year’s end.

To read our previous blog post about this case, click here.


Case Update: Bratcher v. U.S. No. 15-986 L

More than twenty Lexington, Missouri landowners have filed their inverse condemnation claims against the federal government. These landowners are seeking compensation for the taking of their property for the City of Lexington rail-trail conversion. The government must respond to these claims by the end of April. Thereafter, the parties will enter the valuation stage of the litigation wherein they determine the amount of damages the federal government owes these landowners. 


Missouri Clears the Path for the Rock Island Trail

As more work on the Rock Island rail-to-trail project gets underway, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigated the impact of the federal government’s takings along the former railroad. The article, titled “Missouri Clears the Path for a Companion to the Katy Trail,” reports on the background, natural tourism, costs and benefits, and local opinions on the project.


Bratcher v. U.S. No. 15-986 L

A group of landowners in Lexington, Missouri, have filed inverse condemnation claims against the federal government for the taking of their land abutting the 2.91 mile-long railroad corridor. The Wyandotte, Kansas City and Northwestern Railroad originally constructed the right-of-way in 1873. The right-of-way went through several changes and ownership and was eventually acquired by Union Pacific Railroad Company. The rail line has not been used since before 2009.


Thor Hearne Featured in KCUR Coverage of Extensive Missouri Bike Plan

Arent Fox Partner Thor Hearne and the Federal Takings team were recently highlighted by KCUR, Kansas City's flagship NPR station, in their report on the planned conversion of the abandoned Rock Island railway line into a new, 145-mile Rock Island Trail. Soon after the federal Surface Transportation Board approved this Rails-To-Trails conversion, Arent Fox filed a lawsuit on behalf of 237, now over 300, plaintiffs.


Growing Interest in Rock Island Rails-to-Trails

Our cases relating to the Rock Island Railroad corridor are getting a lot of attention. The Kansas City Star recently wrote an editorial, “Pick Up the Pace on Building Rock Island Trail across Missouri,” stating that “when done, [the Rock Island Trail] could stretch a couple hundred scenic miles across the state and finally help link the Kansas City area to the highly popular Katy Trail.”


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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.