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United States v. 44.00 Acres of Land

decided.: June 12, 1956.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PETITIONER-PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
44.00 ACRES OF LAND, MORE OR LESS, SITUATE IN THE TOWN OF GREECE, COUNTY OF MONROE, STATE OF NEW YORK, AND JOHN H. ODENBACH ET AL., DEFENDANTS, COMMISSIONERS JAMES P. B. DUFFY, DONALD J. CORBETT AND JOSEPH E. SILVERSTEIN, APPELLANTS.



Author: Frank

Before CLARK, Chief Judge, and FRANK and HINCKS, Circuit Judges.

FRANK, Circuit Judge.

I. The Defendant Landowner's Appeal.

1. Rule 71A(h), together with Rule 53(e)(2) gave the judge authority to reject, in part, a finding of the Commissioners if "clearly erroneous" and to modify their award accordingly. He was not obliged to, although he had discretion to, remand their report to the Commissioners for a revised finding.

2. It is obvious to us, and it was to the judge, that, in valuing the property, the Commissioners (despite their statement that they took all pertinent factors into consideration) relied primarily on reproduction-cost-new less depreciation. The judge, in his excellent opinion, properly rejected such a valuation. We think his revised valuation is amply supported by the evidence, and that it is not "clearly erroneous."

We think it immaterial that, in revising the Commissioners' findings as to "severance" and rental values, the judge did not explicitly state that they were clearly erroneous. We think his revised findings are amply supported by the evidence.

3. On June 11, 1952, when the Government filed the first Declaration of Taking, it deposited $300,000 with the district court. On December 4, 1952, when the Government amended its Declaration of Taking, it deposited another $200,000 with the court. On January 28, 1953 the district judge vacated the Declaration of Taking on the ground that the original estimate of $300,000 as the value of the land taken was made in bad faith; 110 F.Supp. 168. The evidence showed that the Government had previously estimated the property to be worth $500,000 and had prepared a Declaration of Taking based on this estimate which was never filed. Instead, the Government filed the Declaration of Taking which contained an estimate of only $300,000 as the value of the property taken. The trial judge, in making his order vacating the Declaration, disregarded the amended Declaration increasing the estimate of value to $500,000, because the Government had not obtained his permission to make the amendment.

The $500,000 deposited on December 4, 1952 with the court by the Government remained so deposited. On May 12, 1953 the Government filed a second Declaration of Taking containing an estimate of just compensation in the sum of $500,000. Appellant's motion to vacate this Declaration of Taking was denied. On December 28, 1953 the Government deposited another $142,000. On March 7, 1955, after the final order of the district court was rendered, the Government deposited an additional $118,778.35.

The trial judge awarded appellant interest in the following amounts:

Interest on $760,778.35 from December 27, 1951 (the date on which the Government entered into possession) to July 10, 1952.*fn1

Interest on $460,778.35 from June 11, 1952 to December 4, 1952.*fn2

Interest on $260,778.35 from December 5, 1952 to December 27, 1953.*fn3

Interest on $118,778.35 from December 28, 1953 to March 7, 1955.*fn4

The amount allowed by the court below as interest was calculated to the time at which the Government deposited the various amounts with the court. No interest was allowed with respect to the amounts so deposited. Under the statute, 40 U.S.C.A. ยง 258a, interest is not to be allowed on so much of the value of the condemned property as has been deposited ...


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