Danforth v. United States

308 U.S. 271, 60 S. Ct. 231 (1939)

 

RULE:

Just compensation is value at the time of the taking. Unless a taking has occurred previously in actuality or by a statutory provision, which fixes the time of taking by an event such as the filing of an action, the taking in a condemnation suit under the Flood Control Act, 33 U.S.C.S. § 702a-702m, takes place upon the payment of the money award by the condemnor. Until taking, the condemnor may discontinue or abandon his effort. The determination of the award is an offer subject to acceptance by the condemnor and thus gives to the user of the sovereign power of eminent domain an opportunity to determine whether the valuations leave the cost of completion within his resources. Condemnation is a means by which the sovereign may find out what any piece of property will cost. The owner is protected by the rule that title does not pass until compensation has been ascertained and paid. A reduction or increase in the value of property may occur by reason of legislation for or the beginning or completion of a project. Such changes in value are incidents of ownership. They cannot be considered as a "taking" in the constitutional sense.

FACTS:

Certiorari was issued to the Circuit Court of Appeals to determine if petitioner was properly awarded compensation in condemnation less in amount than a sum fixed by an arrangement between the parties prior to the institution of the condemnation pursuant to the Flood Control Act. The United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment which awarded petitioner compensation in condemnation less in amount than a sum fixed by an arrangement between the parties prior to the institution of the condemnation, but the Court affirmed the judgment denying petitioner interest on the award. The Court construed petitioner's acceptance of the condemnor's first offer as an agreement to fix the price at the named figure for the easement sought. However, the Court refused to award petitioner interest on the amount owed.

ISSUE:

Is petitioner entitled to interest on the judgment from the time of the taking or appropriation of the flowage easement.? 

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The Court stated the taking in a condemnation suit under the Flood Control Act took place upon the payment of the money award by the condemnor. The Court determined that no taking had occurred previously in actuality or by a statutory provision, which fixed the time of taking by an event such as the filing of an action. The Court concluded that an award of interest was not due. Here proceedings are under a Flood Control Act prescribing jurisdiction and procedure. Where the condemnation is free from statutory direction, as here, there would be no interest before the taking. 

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.