Federal Court Says “No” to Uncle Sam’s Effort to Condemn

Take a look at the November 10, 2014 opinion of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, denying in part Uncle Sam’s motion to strike the condemnee’s affirmative defense to a taking of vacant land near San Francisco. United States v. 1.41 Acres, Case No. C 14-01781 WHA. The condemnee was the State of California, and Uncle Sam’s stated reason for the taking was to acquire some vacant land to enhance the utility and value of an existing holding of federal land which Uncle meant to sell to a developer (for some $3 million).

But the federal trial court ruled that as to one ground for Uncle’s motion to strike,  it appeared unmeritorious because the statute authorizing takings for such a purpose was not relied on in the complaint. Is that the end of the story? Not by a long shot. The court allowed as how Uncle Sam could file a motion for summary judgment which we assume will follow shortly.

Quoth His Honor:

“As the record actually stands, the United States relies solely on condemnation to support “continuing operations of the federal building.” In light of the easement already owned by the United States for exactly that purpose, the supposed rationale for condemnation would appear to be a sham – or so it is alleged – and at this stage, that defensive allegation will not be stricken.”

Still, when a federal court says “No” to the federal government in its capacity as condemnor, that’s noteworthy. Check it out.