Law School Case Brief
Vise v. Pearcy Tenn. River Resort Inc. - No. W2014-00640-COA-R3-CV, 2015 Tenn. App. LEXIS 553 (Ct. App. July 15, 2015)
Tenn. Code Ann. § 54-14-101(a)(1) allows for a private condemnation action when a party's property is landlocked by persons who refuse to allow to the person a private road to pass to or from the person's land. A refusal of access to property is a necessary element before a petitioner may bring a condemnation action pursuant to § 54-14-101.
Appellants owned property that did not have access to a public road. Appellants accessed the property by crossing properties owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and appellees. Appellants had verbal permission from both TVA and appellees to enter their lands. When TVA would not grant appellants an easement to access their property unless appellees agreed to grant appellants a private easement across their property, appellants filed a private condemnation action against appellees pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 54-14-101 et seq. The trial court found in favor of appellees. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.
Were appellants entitled to bring a private condemnation action against appellees pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 54-14-101 et seq?
Because landowners may not bring a condemnation action pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 54-14-102 solely to make better use of their property, appellants were not entitled to an easement or right-of-way pursuant to that section. The evidence did not preponderate against the trial court's finding that appellants had adequate and convenient access to their property for its current purposes. And because there was no evidence in the record that appellants had ever been denied access to their property, appellants had not yet met the threshold requirement for a condemnation action pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 54-14-101.
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