United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ex rel. TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY PLAINTIFF
AN EASEMENT AND RIGHT-OF-WAY OVER 0.03 ACRE OF LAND, MORE OR LESS, IN OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, and WILLIE DEAN MCGEE, etal DEFENDANTS
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff United States of America's
motion for summary judgment. Doc. 32. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court finds the motion should be granted.
United States brought this eminent domain action to obtain an
easement and right of way for the use by the Tennessee Valley
Authority. With the complaint, the United States filed a
declaration of taking stating that intended to take an
easement and right of way for the use of the Tennessee Valley
Authority for the operating and maintaining power and
telephone lines. Decl. of Taking ¶ 4, Doc. 2. The
easement sought is described in full in an attachment to the
Declaration of Taking. See Easement Description,
complaint identified fourteen individuals with interests in
the property: Willie Dean McGee, Willie Morris Smith, Jr.,
Eddie Lewis Smith, Betty Jean Hogan, Helen Jean Smith,
Wilbert Kent Johnson, Stanley Johnson, Mary Ann Island, Lois
Lynn Pitchford, Deborah Alexander, Eddie B. Smith, III, Tara
Milla, and Judy Lynn Smith who each owned an undivided 1/14
interest in the property; and Marco Smith, Ventura Donael
Smith, and Ayond Kay Smith who each owned an undivided 1/42
interest in the property.
the complaint, the United States filed a declaration of
taking stating the easement and right of way would be used by
the Tennessee Valley Authority for the operating and
maintaining power and telephone lines. Decl. of Taking ¶
4, Doc. 2. The United States also filed a notice of
condemnation and served each of the landowners listed above.
Pursuant to 40 U.S.C. §§ 3114-3118 this court
granted immediate possession of the easement and right-of-way
to the TVA.
on independent appraisals commissioned by the TV A, the TVA
estimated fair and just compensation for the easement to be
$1, 000 and deposited that amount with the Clerk of the
serving the Defendants, two of them, Judy Lynn Smith and
Eddie L. Smith, settled their interest in the property for
$71.42 each, which represented their respective 1/14
interests in the property. Defendant Willie Dean McGee filed
an answer. In his answer he did not object to the taking, but
requested compensation in the amount of $15, 000. He did not
demand a jury trial on the issue of compensation in that
answer. No. other Defendant filed an answer or otherwise
responded to the complaint.
United States now seeks summary judgment, asking this Court
to determine the amount of compensation due to the remaining
12 owners and distribute the funds accordingly.
Judgment Standard in Eminent Domain Cases
an action involving eminent domain under federal law, the
court tries all issues, including compensation" except
when a party demands a jury trial "within the time to
answer." Fed.R.Civ.P. 71.1(h). Here, no Defendant
demanded a jury trial, and so, the Court may decide the issue
eminent domain proceeding, summary judgment may be granted
under Rule 56 when there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact. "Summary judgment is appropriate in a
condemnation case where there is no disputed issue of
material fact." Transwestern Pipeline Co.
LLC v. 46.78 Acres of Permanent Easement Located in Maricopa
Cty., 473 Fed.Appx. 778, 779 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing
Etalook v. Exxon Pipeline Co., 831 F.2d 1440,
1446-47 (9th Cir. 1987)); see also United States v. 0.225
Acres of Land in Parish of Plaquemines, La, Etc., No.
16-0792, 2017 WL 2618852, at *4 (E.D. La. Jun. 6, 2017)
(summarily decided issue of compensation where no land owner
appeared); United States ex rel. Tennessee Valley
Authority v. Tree-Removal Rights with Respect to land in
McNairy County, Tenn., No. 15-1008, 2015 WL 5499434
(W.D. Term. Sept. 16, 2015) (granting summary judgment in
eminent domain proceeding on the issue of compensation).
party moving for summary judgment bears the initial
responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for its
motion and identifying those portions of the record it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). "An issue of fact is material only
if 'its resolution could affect the outcome of the
action'." Manning v. Chevron Chem. Co.,
LLC,332 F.3d 874, 877 (5th Cir. 2003) (quoting
Wyatt v. Hunt Plywood Co.,297 F.3d 405, 408 (5th
Cir. 2002)). The burden then shifts to the nonmovant to
"go beyond the pleadings and by... affidavits, or by the
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, designate specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial."." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, ...