Filing 30

ORDER granting 27 Motion for Summary Judgment. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE CLAY D LAND on 08/21/2017. (CCL)

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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-122 (Thomas E. Callis and William G. Callis, III) * 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. 27) and finds that $14,564.00 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 Terrell County, Georgia. Sabal Trail, the property is owned by Thomas E. According to Callis and William G. Callis, III but may be subject to state and county tax liens. Sabal Trail named as Defendants in this action the Callises, the Georgia Department of Revenue, and Terrell County— all of whom are “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. Each Defendant was served personally with notice of this action in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 71.1(d)(3)(A). 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-122, 2016 WL 3248367, at *10, *17 (M.D. Ga. June 10, 2016), amended, No. 4:16-cv-122, 2016 WL 3251577 (M.D. Ga. June 10, 2016). 2016. Pl.’s Notice of Posting Security Bonds, July 1, 2016, ECF No. 21. 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 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 F.3d 2 accord 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 $14,564.00. 27-1. Pl.’s Mot. for Summ. J. 1, 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, Fed. R. 821 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 Mike Everett, a certified real property appraiser. Everett Report, ECF No. 29 at 5-84. Everett conducted an appraisal of the property and concluded that the “before” value of the parcel as of July 1, 2016 was $594,300 and the “after” value, 3 taking into account the temporary and permanent easements and a permanent access road, was $579,736. Id. at 8. Therefore, according to Everett, just compensation for the easements in this case is $14,564.00. Id. Again, Defendants did not present any evidence on the issue of just compensation. Based on the evidence before it, the Court concludes that $14,564.00 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 $14,564.00 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:  The applicant’s any). name, address, and email address (if  The applicant’s claimed interest in the property and the basis for that claim. 4  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 None of the Defendants have registered for electronic filing through the Court’s electronic filing system and thus will not receive electronic notice of this Order automatically. The Clerk shall serve a copy of this Order via U.S. mail on each of the Defendants listed in Appendix A to this Order; according to Sabal Trail, those are the correct addresses for the Defendants. V. Legal Title to Easements After Sabal Trail pays into the registry of the Court the amount stated above, Sabal Trail shall submit to the Court a proposed final order vesting Sabal Trail with legal title to the permanent and temporary easements. IT IS SO ORDERED, this 21st day of August, 2017. S/Clay D. Land CLAY D. LAND CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA 5 APPENDIX A The Clerk shall serve a copy of this Order via U.S. mail on each of the following Defendants: Thomas E. Callis 321 Harmony Trail Deridder, LA 70634 William G. Callis, III 321 Harmony Trail Deridder, LA 70634 Georgia Department of Revenue c/o Lynette T. Riley State Revenue Commissioner 1800 Century Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30345 Terrell County Board of Commissioners c/o Wilbur T. Gamble, III, Chairman 955 Forrester Drive, SE Dawson, GA 39842 6

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