In Lost Tree Village Corporation v. United States, a taking case, the Court of Federal Claims awarded the plaintiff reimbursement of all the attorneys’ fees and expenses it had actually paid—totaling $2,021,257.72. The court rejected the Government’s arguments that the hourly rates of Lost Tree’s law firm were too high (up to $810 per hour), that the hours were excessive, and that some expenses were unnecessary, stating “[f]ees incurred and paid by a client at an agreed rate are presumptively reasonable because ‘[i]n reaching agreement, lawyer and client have already considered and weighed all the relevant factors,’” and that “[w]hen fixed market rates already exist, there is no good reason to tolerate the substantial costs of turning every attorneys[’] fee case into a major ratemaking proceeding.”

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On April 11, 2017, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims directed the clerk to enter judgement under Rule 54 (b), at the request of the Plaintiffs (collectively “Memmer”) and the Government, as to the amount of just compensation and interest owed to Memmer in a taking case. The Court then ordered the parties to file a joint status report stating their position on whether the Court should stay further proceedings in the case, specifically resolution of Memmer’s attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses claim, during the appeal.

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Collateral Estoppel Based on Previous Full and Fair Hearing

July 18, 2017

In 1998 the Alabama Power Company and Georgia Power Company filed a breach of contract lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking damages for the Government’s breach of contract for the removal of spent nuclear fuel from the two power companies’ facilities. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of the companies on liability, and following a trial on damages, awarded damages. The damages award was appealed, and on remand, the damages accrued through December 31, 2004 were resolved through settlement.

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Rails-to-Trails Settlement: Fair, Reasonable, and Adequate

July 17, 2017

Until July 8, 2003, the Delaware and Hudson Railway Company, Inc., d/b/a Canadian Pacific Railway company, held easements for railroad purposes across land owned by 271 members of a class action pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  Plaintiffs claimed that their property adjacent to a 9.14-mile rail corridor in Albany County, New York had been unconstitutionally taken when the United States authorized the conversion of the railroad rights-of-way into a recreational trail under the National Trails System Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1247 (d) (2000).

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A Winter’s Tale

July 12, 2017

In 1944, Congress authorized a flood control scheme for the Missouri River, known as the Pick-Sloan Plan.  That plan directed the construction of several dams along the Missouri River.  Two of the dams led to the inundation of approximately 15,000 acres of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe’s reservation, for which the Tribe was paid $4.4 million as compensation. The Tribe recently sued in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleging that the United States’ diversion of water from the Missouri River for flood control had breached its duty of trust owed to the Tribe by failing to preserve the Tribe’s reserved water rights or had unconstitutionally taken the Tribe’s reserved water rights. The Tribe sought $200 million in damages for its alleged injuries. The Tribe also sought declaratory and injunctive relief, asking the Court to define its rights to waters of the Missouri River.

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Tracks of My Tires

July 11, 2017

In May 2011, the United States Army Corps of Engineers used explosives to breach the Birds Point Levee located on the Mississippi River in Mississippi County, Missouri, to prevent flooding. Afterwards, to fix the levee, the Army Corps transported truckloads of sand and clay across roads owned by Mississippi County. The County claimed that the roads used by the Army Corps were not intended to bear the heavy loads of the Corps’ equipment and, as a result, the Corps caused significant damage to the County’s roads including large tire ruts, crevasses, and disintegration of portions of the pavement. The County filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, contending that the Corps’ actions resulted in a physical taking of its roads in violation of the Fifth Amendment, entitling the County to just compensation.

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