Filing 44

ORDER granting 40 Motion for Summary Judgment. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE CLAY D LAND on 08/17/2017. (CCL)

Download PDF
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA COLUMBUS DIVISION SABAL TRAIL TRANSMISSION, LLC, Plaintiff, * * vs. * REAL ESTATE et al., CASE NO. 4:16-cv-108 (Estate of Elijah Moore et al.) * Defendants. * O R D E R Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiff Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC’s summary judgment motion on the issue of just compensation in this condemnation action. As discussed below, the Court grants Sabal Trail’s motion (ECF No. 40) and finds that $2,700.00 is just compensation for the easements. I. Background Plaintiff Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build an interstate natural gas pipeline. Sabal Trail brought this Natural condemnation action under the Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 717-717z, seeking permanent and temporary easements over one tract of land in Mitchell County, Georgia. According to Sabal Trail, the property was part of the Estate of Elijah Moore, and Sabal Trail named as Defendants in this action the Estate and individuals “known to have or claim an interest in the Property from which easements and associated rights are sought to be condemned.” Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1. Sabal Trail also named as a Defendant the United States of America because the Internal Revenue Service recorded a tax lien on the property for the liability of Defendant Elijah Wheeler. Id. Each Defendant was served personally with notice of this action in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 71.1(d)(3)(A) or by publication in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 71.1(d)(3)(B). On June 10, 2016, the Court concluded that Sabal Trail was entitled to possession of the easements it sought once it posted a security bond. Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC v. Estate, No. 4:16-CV-108, 2016 WL 3248367, at *7, *15 (M.D. Ga. June 10, 2016), amended, No. 4:16-CV-108, 2016 WL 3251577 (M.D. Ga. June 10, 2016). 2016. Pl.’s Notice of Posting Security Bonds, July 1, 2016, ECF No. 30. II. Sabal Trail posted the security bond on July 1, The only remaining issue is just compensation. Discussion Just compensation means “the fair market value of the property on the date of the taking.” United States ex rel.TVA v. 1.72 Acres of Land in Tenn., 821 F.3d 742, 756 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing United States v. Miller, 317 U.S. 369, 373–74 (1943)). In a partial takings case like this one, just compensation “is the difference in fair market value of the whole tract before and after the taking.” Id. (quoting United States ex rel. TVA 2 v. Easements and Rights–of–Way over 6 Acres of Land, 117 F. App’x 422, 33.92356 423 Acres (6th Of Cir. Land, 2004)); 585 accord F.3d 1, 9 United (1st States Cir. v. 2009) (collecting cases); United States v. 68.94 Acres of Land, More or Less, Situate in Kent Cty., State of Del., 918 F.2d 389, 393 (3d Cir. 1990). Generally, “market or comparable sales data . . . is the best evidence of market value.” 1.72 Acres of Land in Tenn., 821 F.3d at 757. Sabal Trail argues that just compensation for the easements in this case is $2,700.00. 40-1. Pl.’s Mot. for Summ. J. 2, ECF No. Summary judgment may be granted only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Civ. P. 56(a). “burden to In this condemnation case, Defendants have the prove, by a preponderance amount constitutes just compensation.” Tennessee, 821 Fed. R. F.3d at 756. of the evidence, what 1.72 Acres of Land in Defendants were entitled to “present evidence on the amount of compensation to be paid.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 71.1(e)(3). None of the Defendants responded to Sabal Trail’s summary judgment motion or presented any evidence on what amount constitutes just compensation for the easements. Sabal Trail did present evidence on the issue of just compensation: the expert report of Zac Ryan, a certified real property appraiser. Ryan Report, ECF No. 42 at 6-103. 3 Ryan conducted an appraisal of the property and concluded that the “before” value of the parcel as of July 1, 2016 was $425,000 and the “after” permanent value, taking easements, was into account $422,300. Id. the at temporary 8. and Therefore, according to Ryan, just compensation for the easements in this case is $2,700.00. evidence on the Id. issue Again, Defendants did not present any of just compensation. Based on the evidence before it, the Court concludes that $2,700 is just compensation for the easements in this case. III. Payment of Compensation by Sabal Trail Application for Obtaining Disbursement and Claimant’s Within twenty-eight days of the date of this Order, Sabal Trail shall pay into the registry of the Court $2,700 plus prejudgment interest from the date of the taking (July 1, 2016), which shall be calculated at a legal rate of interest of seven percent per annum simple interest. Once this amount is paid into the registry of the Court, the security bond previously posted by Sabal Trail shall be released. Defendants may apply to the Court for distribution of the award in accordance with their respective ownership interests. Defendants may apply for a distribution of the award by sending an application to the Clerk of Court, P.O. Box 124, Columbus GA 31902. The Clerk shall docket each application electronically. The application should include: 4  The applicant’s any). name, address, and email address (if  The applicant’s claimed interest in the property and the basis for that claim.  Proof of the applicant’s interest in the property. Applications must be postmarked by December 1, 2017. Any questions regarding the application process should be directed to the Clerk’s office via telephone ( (706-649-7816) or email If multiple applications are received, the Court will schedule a hearing to determine how the proceeds should be distributed. IV. Providing Notice to Defendants With the exception of the United States of America, none of the Defendants have registered for electronic filing through the Court’s electronic filing system and thus will electronic notice of this Order automatically. serve a copy of this Order via U.S. mail not receive The Clerk shall on each Defendants listed in Appendix A to this Order. of the And, within seven days of the date of this Order, Sabal Trail shall mail a copy of this Order to any Defendant who is not listed in Appendix A but whose address is known to Sabal Trail. Sabal Trail shall also assist the Court with service of this Order by publication on those Defendants whom Sabal Trail represents could not be located despite a diligent Those Defendants are listed in Appendix B to this Order. 5 search. Based on Sabal Trail’s newspaper for Enterprise. prior publication representations, the of is this notice appropriate The Camilla Within twenty-eight days of the date of this Order, Sabal Trail shall: 1. Prepare to the notice Federal for the Clerk of Court’s signature a cover letter publisher providing instructions for publishing the in accordance with the requirements set forth in Rule of Civil Procedure 71.1(d)(3)(B).1 2. Provide to the Clerk a check made out to the publisher for the cost of publishing the notice; and 3. Prepare and submit to the Clerk a proposed notice to be published. Once Sabal Trail provides the cover letter, check, and proposed notice to the Clerk, the Clerk shall submit these items to the publisher and cause publication of the notice. The Clerk shall note on the docket when this task is complete. Once publication is complete, Sabal Trail shall obtain and submit to the Court via CM/ECF a publisher’s affidavit demonstrating that the notice was published. V. Legal Title to Easements After Sabal Trail pays into the registry of the Court the amount stated above and files the publisher’s affidavit demonstrating that notice of this Order was published, Sabal Trail shall submit to the Court a proposed final order vesting 1 The Court recognizes that Rule 71.1(d)(3)(B) provides the procedure for service of an initial condemnation notice by publication. The Court finds that this procedure should be used to notify Defendants who could not be located of the just compensation award and the process for applying for a share of the award. 6 Sabal Trail with legal title to the permanent and temporary easements. IT IS SO ORDERED, this 17th day of August, 2017. S/Clay D. Land CLAY D. LAND CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA 7 APPENDIX A The Clerk shall serve a copy of this Order via U.S. mail on each of the following Defendants: Beverly Davila 14890 Faversham Circle Orlando, FL 32826 Alonzo Hill, Jr. 606 Vera Street Daytona Beach, FL 32114 Catherine B. Moore 1053 Continental Drive Daytona Beach, FL 32117 Herman Leon Moore, Jr. 1117 Jarecki Avenue Holly Hills, FL 32117 Jerri Lin Moore 1053 Continental Drive Daytona Beach, FL 32117 Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co. c/o Corporation Service Company Registered Agent 40 Technology Pkwy South, #300 Norcross, GA 30092 Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co. c/o Candace Boutwell Boutwell & Associates, LLC 2280 Satellite Boulevard Building B Duluth, GA 30097 Manuel Nenez 7102 Old GA Hwy 3 Camilla, GA 31730 Alfonzo Wheeler 135 Miller Street, SW Baconton, GA 31716 Bettye Jean Wheeler 8977 Honeysuckle Road Baconton, GA 31716 8 Ciscero Wheeler 384 East Gate Circle Norman Park, GA 31771 Ciscero Wheeler 268 Shady Grove Rd Moultrie, GA 31768 Elijah N. Wheeler 135 SW Miller Street Baconton, GA 31716 John Dean Wheeler GDC ID: 0000912656 Dooly State Prison P.O. Box 750 Unadilla, GA 31091 Johnnie Coleman Wheeler 1967 Charleston House Way Apartment 2106 Holly Hill, FL 32117 Lillian M. Williams 418 Fletcher Avenue Daytona Beach, FL 32114 9 APPENDX B The following Defendants may be served with a copy of this Order by publication: Alvin C. Dent Lucious Dent Estate Of Elijah Moore Martha Moore Hill Myrtle McIntyre Cora Moore Dorothy Moore Hubert Moore Terry Jerome Moore Thelma Dent Morrison Joe Dean Wheeler Ronald Wheeler 10

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?