The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently approved a valuation of property that had been acquired under the federal rails-to-trails program, which assumed zoning restrictions on that property would reasonably be removed.  In Childers v. United States, the owners of 13 parcels of property in Sarasota, Florida sought $8.7 million in compensation when the Government imposed a recreational trail on their property under the Rails to Trails Act.

Read more on U.S. Court of Federal Claims Approves Valuations of Property That Assume Zoning Changes…

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently denied the Government’s motion for summary judgment in a breach-of-contract case, holding that despite the court’s reservations about the legal merits of some claims, a decision after trial was a more appropriate method to resolve those claims.  In Weston/Bean Joint Venture v. United States, a dredging company had been contracted to dredge and dispose of contaminated material from the Miami River in Florida.  The company alleged that when it began dredging, it discovered the material (gravel, cobbles, and boulders) was significantly larger than the contract had specified. The company also alleged that during the course of performance, the Government’s specifications caused a seawall to collapse, increasing the cost of the operation.  After exhausting administrative options, the company sued in the CFC for $12 million.

Read more on U.S. Court of Federal Claims Allows Dredging Company’s Contract Claims to Proceed to Trial…

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Awards Nuclear Fuel Company $19 Million on Summary Judgment

April 18, 2014

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently granted a plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in a spent-nuclear-fuel case, holding that the undisputed facts show the Government is liable for $19 million of storage costs.  In Energy Northwest v. United States, an electric utility entered into a contract with the Department of Energy for the federal government to dispose of nuclear waste.  But although the Government had entered into the same contract with every nuclear power provider in the country, it failed to accept delivery of any nuclear waste, breaching the contracts.

Read more on U.S. Court of Federal Claims Awards Nuclear Fuel Company $19 Million on Summary Judgment…

Read the full article →

U.S. Court of Federal Claims Holds Section 1500 Bars Claims Under the Transfer Statute

April 17, 2014

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently held that 28 U.S.C. § 1500 bars claims transferred to the CFC.  In Skokomish Indian Tribe v. United States, the Tribe sued the Government and several other parties in federal district court, alleging that the operation of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project near Tacoma, Washington, violated the Administrative Procedure Act, an 1855 Treaty, Washington tort law, and the Government’s trust duties to the Tribe.  The district court concluded that some of the claims—notably, the claims arising under the 1855 Treaty, and other claims against the Government—must be brought in the CFC.  The district court then transferred the claims against the Government under 28 U.S.C. § 1631, the transfer statute.

Read more on U.S. Court of Federal Claims Holds Section 1500 Bars Claims Under the Transfer Statute…

Read the full article →

Public Lands and the Federal Government’s Compact-Based “Duty to Dispose”: A Case Study of Utah’s H.B. 148

April 10, 2014

A recent article by Professor Donald J. Kochan, Chapman University School of Law, published in Brigham Young University Law Review, discusses legislation in the state of Utah that “demand[s] that the federal government, by December 31, 2014, ‘extinguish title’ to certain public lands that the federal government currently holds (totaling an estimated more than 20 million acres).” The article is available for download here.

Read more on Public Lands and the Federal Government’s Compact-Based “Duty to Dispose”: A Case Study of Utah’s H.B. 148…

Read the full article →

CFC Orders Discovery on Disputed Fact Issues in Motion to Dismiss

March 19, 2014

Over the Government’s objection, the Court of Federal Claims has ordered the Government to provide discovery to plaintiffs regarding factual issues raised by the Government’s motion to dismiss a takings claim brought by shareholders of Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association (Freddie) stock.  The case arises out of the financial crisis of 2008, when the Government put both corporations into conservatorship.

Read more on CFC Orders Discovery on Disputed Fact Issues in Motion to Dismiss…

Read the full article →

Supreme Court Rejects Government’s Efforts to Derail Rails-to-Trails Claims

March 12, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court has confirmed that fee owners of western lands burdened by certain now-abandoned railroad easements granted by the government in the nineteenth century also own the land underlying those railroad easements.  In Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, the Government claimed that it, and not the current fee owner, owned the reversionary interests for the railroad easements, and that it received title when the railroad abandoned any easement granted under the 1875 Railroad Act.  Both the trial court and the Tenth Circuit agreed when this case was before them. The decision potentially affected thousands of miles of now-abandoned railroad easements in the West.

Read more on Supreme Court Rejects Government’s Efforts to Derail Rails-to-Trails Claims…

Read the full article →

Lost Profits Claim Lost in the Federal Circuit

March 4, 2014

In Nycal Offshore Development v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. Court of Federal Claims’ holding that Nycal, an oil development company, had failed to prove its claim for lost-profit damages following the Government’s breach of contract.  The case arose out of oil and gas leases made off the coast of California by the Government to several natural-resource development companies, including Nycal.  After the leases were granted, Congress passed legislation giving California greater ability to halt development under the leases—which it did, making the leases worthless.  The development companies sued for breach of contract, and ultimately were awarded $1.1 billion in restitution damages.

Read more on Lost Profits Claim Lost in the Federal Circuit…

Read the full article →

Courts Sinks Former Naval Officer’s Backpay Case

March 3, 2014

Former-commissioned Naval officer Troy Allen Lewis launched a promising career in the U.S. Navy, joining the service via the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program and in training to become a medical doctor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.  But while attending the Uniformed Services University, Lewis was arrested in 2007 for allegedly engaging in an online chat with a 10-year-old girl.  Lewis was ultimately convicted of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor with an intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Read more on Courts Sinks Former Naval Officer’s Backpay Case…

Read the full article →

End of the Line for Some Rails-to-Trails Plaintiffs, Others Move Ahead

February 28, 2014

Following abandonment of a portion of the easement on which the railroad line runs, in 2009 the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation purchased the line for interim use as a hiking and biking trail under Section 8(d) of the Trail Act.  That purchase was made on behalf of the Dickinson County Trails Board and the Osceola County Conservation Board. In 2010 the landowners who owned the land over which the abandoned easement lies filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking just compensation for the taking of their reversionary interests resulting from the changed, non-railroad use of the railroad easement.

Read more on End of the Line for Some Rails-to-Trails Plaintiffs, Others Move Ahead…

Read the full article →