United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA upon the relation and for the use of the TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY PLAINTIFF
AN EASEMENT AND RIGHT-OF-WAY OVER .14 ACRE OF LAND, MORE OR LESS, IN OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, and LYDIA RANDLE, et al. DEFENDANTS
SHARION AYCOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 22, 2017, the United States of America filed this
eminent domain action to acquire an easement and right-of-way
over .14 acres of land against sixteen Defendants with
varying potential interests in the land. Now before the Court
is the United States' Motion  for Summary Judgment.
The Defendants failed to file a response, making this issue
ripe for review.
United States of America seeks an easement and right-of-way
over .14 acres of land located in Oktibbeha County,
Mississippi for the use of the Tennessee Valley Authority
(“TVA”), through eminent domain. The United
States identified sixteen individual Defendants with varying
potential interests in the property, along with a Declaration
of Taking  and Notice of Condemnation . The Declaration
of Taking states that the easement and right-of-way are to be
used for the operation and maintenance of electric power
transmission circuits and communication circuits. The United
States personally served five Defendants with the Complaint,
Declaration of Taking, and Notice of Condemnation. The United
States served the remaining eleven Defendants by publication.
Defendant, Lydia Randle, filed an answer contesting the
persons identified as Defendant landowners, but does not
contest the taking or the estimated just compensation.
Defendants Charles D. Johnson and Charles Sharp each settled
with the United States and this Court entered orders settling
the interest of and disbursing funds to those defendants. The
remaining thirteen Defendants did not file an answer, make a
jury demand, or otherwise respond to or appear in this
September 25, 2017, the United States filed its Motion 
for Entry of an Order of Immediate Possession. On February 7,
2018, this Court entered an Order granting TVA immediate
possession of the easement and right-of-way pursuant to Title
40 United States Code Sections 3114-3118.
before the Court is the United States' Motion  for
Summary Judgment. The United States asks this Court to
determine the amount of compensation due to the remaining
fourteen Defendants 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
compensation must be determined . . . by a jury when a party
demands one within the time to answer[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P.
71.1(h). In this case, none of the sixteen Defendants
demanded a jury trial, contested the taking, or contested the
United States' valuation of just compensation. While
Lydia Randle filed an answer, she did not demand a jury trial
or contest the compensation. Therefore, this Court may decide the issue
of compensation. See id.; United States ex. rel Tennessee
Valley Auth. v. An Easement and Right-of-Way Over 0.05 Acre
of Land, More or Less, in Oktibbeha County, Miss., No.
1:17-CV-14-GHD, 2019 WL 267911, *1 (N.D. Miss. Jan 18, 2019)
(relying on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 71.1(h) when
finding that the court may decide the issue of compensation
after no defendant demanded a jury trial).
judgment is appropriate in an eminent domain proceeding
“under Rule 56 when there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact.” United States ex rel. Tennessee
Valley Auth. v. An Easement and Right-of-Way Over 0.03 Acre
of Land, More or Less, in Oktibbeha County, Miss., No.
1:17-CV-152-GHD, 2019 WL 267881, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Jan. 18,
2019) (citing Transwestern Pipeline Co. LLC v. 46.78
Acres of Permanent Easement Located in Maricopa County,
473 Fed.Appx. 778, 779 (9th Cir. 2012)). “The court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
McClendon v. United States, 892 F.3d 775, 781 (5th
Cir. 2018). “The party moving for summary judgment
bears the burden of identifying the portions of the record
that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” James v. Woods, 899 F.3d, 404, 407 (5th
Cir. 2018). “[T]he nonmovant must then point to or
produce specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine
issue of material fact.” Id.
Fifth Amendment protects private property against takings for
public use “without just compensation.” U.S.
Const. amend. V. The term “just compensation”
typically means the fair market value of the property on the
date of the taking. United States v. 564.54 Acres of
Land, 441 U.S. 506, 511-12, 514, 99 S.Ct. 1854, 60
L.Ed.2d 435 (1979). In cases where the United States takes an
easement, just compensation is calculated by “the
difference between the market value of that tract before and
after the taking.” United States v. 8.41 Acres of
Land, 680 F.2d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 1982).
the moving party presents an appraisal by a credentialed
property appraiser and the non-moving party does not contest
it, that moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” United States ex rel. Tennessee Valley Auth.
v. Tree-Removal Rights with Respect to land in McNairy
County, Tenn., No. 15-1008, 2015 WL 5499434, *3 (W.D.
Tenn. Sept. 16, 2015) (granting summary judgment in eminent
domain proceeding on the issue of compensation). Here, the
United States submitted the declaration of Ivan Antal, a
Mississippi certified general property appraiser and
TVA's Manager of Real Property Transactions, to support
its estimate of $950 for just compensation for the easement
and right-of-way. According to the record, Antal reviewed two
restricted use appraisal reports which indicated fair market
values of the easement and right-of-way of $450 and $925,
respectively. The United States subsequently determined that
the fair market value for the easement and right-of-way is
judgment is appropriate here because the Defendants failed to
dispute the United States' valuation of just
compensation. See United States ex rel. Tennessee Valley
Auth., 2019 WL 267881, *3 (granting summary judgment
after defendants “failed to appear or failed to provide
competent evidence to dispute that valuation”);
United States for Use of Tennessee Valley Auth. v. Tree
Removal Rights with Respect to Land in Marshall County,
Miss., No. 3:17-CV-128-DMB, 2018 WL 6072008, *2 (N.D.
Miss. Nov. 19, 2018) (granting summary judgment “in the
absence of any evidence showing the inadequacy of TVA's
valuation method or evidence establishing a different value
for the taken property”). The Fifth Circuit has also
affirmed the use of summary judgment to determine just
compensation in a condemnation proceeding. See Bibb
County. v. ...