Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v. 7.72 Acres in Lee County, Alabama et al (MAG2)(LEAD)
ORDER that Plaintiff Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC's 108 Motion for Appointment of a Commission to Determine Compensation pursuant to FRCP 71.1(h) is DENIED. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 8/28/2017. (dmn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
SABAL TRAIL TRANSMISSION,
7.72 ACRES IN LEE COUNTY,
ALABAMA, and BOWDEN
9.95 ACRES IN CHAMBERS
COUNTY, ALABAMA, and
JOSEPH L. DEAN, JR.,
CASE NO. 3:16-CV-173-WKW
CASE NO. 3:16-CV-175-WKW
Before the court in this consolidated condemnation action is Plaintiff Sabal
Trail Transmission, LLC’s Motion for Appointment of a Commission to Determine
Compensation pursuant to Rule 71.1(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(Doc. # 108.), which has been fully briefed (Docs. # 109, 110, 111, 112, 113). Based
upon careful review of this briefing and the record, the court finds that Plaintiff’s
motion is due to be denied.
Under Rule 71.1(h), district courts have “broad discretion” in choosing
between a jury and a commission to resolve the issue of compensation in a
condemnation case. S. Nat. Gas Co. v. Land, Cullman Cty., 197 F.3d 1368, 1373
(11th Cir. 1999). 1 Two courts recently exercised this discretion to select juries
instead of commissions in condemnation cases related to this litigation. Those courts
highlighted the inefficiency of commissions and emphasized the importance of
providing a jury trial on compensation issues given the fundamental property rights
at stake. Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v. Real Estate, No. 1:16-cv-063, 2017 WL
2783995, at *7 (N.D. Fla. June 27, 2017); Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v.
+/– 1.127 Acres of Land in Hamilton Cty., Fla., No. 3:16-cv-263, 2017 WL
2799352, at *2 (M.D. Fla. June 15, 2017). That reasoning applies with at least as
much force in the instant litigation, so resolution of the compensation issues here by
jury is preferable to resolution by commission.
It is therefore ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion (Doc. # 108) is DENIED.
DONE this 28th day of August, 2017.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The cited case addresses Rule 71.1’s predecessor, but the changes to the predecessor rule
that yielded Rule 71.1 were “intended to be stylistic only.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 71.1 advisory
committee’s notes to 2007 amendments.
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