United States of America Upon The Relation And For The Use Of The Tennessee Valley Authority v. An Easement and Right-Of-Way Over 3 Acres of Land, More or Less, in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi et al
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION granting 27 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge Sharion Aycock on 11/17/21. (sko)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
upon the relation and for the use of the
TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:20-CV-108-SA-DAS
AN EASEMENT AND RIGHT-OF-WAY
OVER 3 ACRES OF LAND, MORE OR LESS,
IN OKTIBBEHA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, et al.
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION
Tennessee Valley Authority (“TVA”) initiated this eminent domain action by filing its
Complaint  on May 27, 2020. TVA seeks a permanent easement and right-of-way across a tract
of land located in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. On July 28, 2021, TVA filed a Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment on the Issue of Just Compensation . Various pro se Defendants have filed
Responses [29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34]. The Court has reviewed all the filings, as well as the applicable
authorities, and is now prepared to rule.
Relevant Factual and Procedural Background
In 2017, TVA commenced a project to build a new transmission line to meet the growing
demand for electrical power near Starkville, Mississippi. The construction phase of the project has
now been completed, and the new transmission line was placed into service during the summer of
2020. One of the properties the transmission line crosses is a 40.6-acre parcel of land. Through
this condemnation action, TVA seeks to acquire a three-acre permanent easement and right-ofway across that 40.6-acre parcel.
On May 27, 2020, TVA filed its Complaint , Declaration of Taking , and Notice of
Condemnation . In its Declaration of Taking , TVA estimated that $10,350.00 would be the
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appropriate amount to constitute just and liberal compensation for the easement and right-of-way
sought. Accordingly, TVA deposited $10,350.00 with the Clerk of Court.
Ownership of the 40.6-acre parcel is uncertain. On this point, TVA states that “[a] title
opinion prepared by TVA’s Realty Services organization indicates that the last record owner of
the subject property was King Hall, deceased. . . The title opinion further indicates that no further
deed from, nor a probated will of King Hall was found of record; that the identity [of] some of Mr.
King’s heirs is known, and that current ownership of the property is uncertain because the identity
of others is not.”  at p. 3-4.
TVA now seeks partial summary judgment. TVA notes that while there are two remaining
issues to be resolved in this case—(1) the amount of compensation to be awarded and (2) the
apportionment of the award, at this time it only seeks summary judgment on the compensation
“In an action involving eminent domain under federal law, the court tries all issues,
including compensation, except when a party demands a jury trial within the time to answer.” U.S.
ex. Rel. Tennessee Valley Authority v. An Easement and Right-of-Way Over 0.03 Acre in Oktibbeha
Cnty., Miss., 2019 WL 267881, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Jan. 18, 2019) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 71.1(h)).
As with other types of cases, “[s]ummary judgment is appropriate in a condemnation case where
there is no disputed issue of material fact.” Id. (quoting Transwestern Pipeline Co. LLC v. 46.78
Acres of Permanent Easement Located in Maricopa Cnty., 473 F. App’x 778, 779 (9th Cir. 2012)
(additional citations omitted).
In the summary judgment context, the moving party bears the initial responsibility of
informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying the portions of the record it believes
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demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Then, the burden shifts to the non-moving party
to “go beyond the pleadings and by . . . affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Easement and Right-of-Way Over 0.03 Acre in Oktibbeha Cnty., 2019 WL 267881, at *2 (quoting
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S. Ct. 2548).
Analysis and Discussion
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects private property against
takings for public use “without just compensation.” U.S. Const. amend. V. “The term ‘just
compensation’ typically means fair market value of the property on the date of the taking.” U.S. v.
An Easement and Right-of-Way Over .14 Acre of Land, in Oktibbeha Cnty., Miss., 2019 WL
1031079, at *2 (N.D. Mis. Mar. 4, 2019) (citing U.S. v. 564.54 Acres of Land, 441 U.S. 506, 51112, 514, 99 S. Ct. 1854, 60 L.Ed.2d 435 (1979)). “In cases where the United States takes an
easement, just compensation is calculated by the difference between the market value of that tract
before and after the taking.” Id. (quoting U.S. v. 8.41 Acres of Land, 680 F.2d 388, 392 (5th Cir.
As an initial matter, the Court notes that it must decide the issue of compensation because
no party has demanded a jury trial. See FED. R. CIV. P. 71.1(h)(1) (noting that, in a condemnation
action, the Court tries all issues, including compensation, unless a party demands a trial by jury).
To support its valuation of the easement and right-of-way, TVA submitted the Declaration of Ivan
J. Antal, II . Antal is the Manager of Real Property Transactions in TVA’s Realty Services
organization. In pertinent part, Antal’s Declaration states:
9. Before the filing of this condemnation action, TVA’s Realty
Services organization retained an independent Mississippi licensed
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real property appraiser to determine the fair market value of the
easement rights. The appraisal report submitted by the independent
appraiser valued the easement rights at $10,075.
10. I reviewed the appraisal report as part of my duties as TVA
Manager of Real Property Transactions. Based upon my review of
the appraisal report and my experience as a licensed Mississippi real
estate appraiser, I determined that TVA’s estimate of just and liberal
compensation for the permanent easement and right-of-way taken in
this action is $10,350.
 at p. 3.
As in previous cases of this nature, the Court finds that this evidence is sufficient to meet
TVA’s initial summary judgment burden as to the issue of just compensation. See, e.g., An
Easement and Right-of-Way Over .14 Acre of Land, in Oktibbeha Cnty., Miss., 2019 WL 1031079
The Court therefore turns to the filed pro se Responses [29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34]. In the first
Response , which was filed by Annie L. Young on August 26, 2021, Young represents that
she agrees with TVA’s position. The next Response  was filed by Kathy Young Lanier. In that
filing, Lanier stated that she would like to receive her portion of the disbursement but did not
dispute TVA’s valuation. On September 9, 2021, Helen Young Hudson filed her Response ,
in which she explains her relationship to the property owner but does not contest the valuation.
The next Response  was filed by Whitney Cole on September 17, 2021. Cole states
that she is “requesting [her] fair portion of the amount of no less than $500.00.” . However,
other than this conclusory allegation regarding the amount of compensation she would like to
receive, she does not argue that TVA’s proposed valuation is inaccurate. Of course, her general
allegation regarding the amount she would like to receive is insufficient to rebut a properly
supported motion for summary judgment. See, e.g., Irvin v. Prentiss Cnty., Miss., 2020 WL
5571040, at *2 (N.D. Miss. Sept. 17, 2020) (citation omitted) (“If the defendants’ motion is
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supported by evidence, the plaintiff cannot discharge his burden by alleging mere legal
conclusions; instead, he must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported
motion for summary judgment.”). In addition, Twanda Cole’s Response  states that she desires
an amount “of not less than $250.00 for I feel this is fair.” . This conclusory assertion fails for
the same reason noted above. The last Response  was filed by Shirley Hall, who requests that
she personally receive no less than $250.00. Again, this conclusory assertion is insufficient.
The United States Supreme Court has made clear that “just compensation must be
measured by an objective standard that disregards subjective values which are only of significance
to an individual owner.” U.S. v. 50 Acres of Land, 469 U.S. 24, 35, 105 S. Ct. 451, 83 L.Ed.2d 376
(1984). Through Antal’s Declaration , TVA has provided sufficient objective evidence to
support its valuation of the easement and right-of-way. TVA’s request for judgment on the issue
of just compensation is GRANTED. The Court accepts its valuation of $10,350.00 for the subject
permanent easement and right-of-way.
Procedure for Disbursement
Having now resolved the issue of just compensation, the Court turns to apportionment and
disbursement. Undoubtedly, this portion of the proceeding is more complex due to the ownership
of the parcel being unknown. However, the Court recognizes that “[a]fter a deposit, the court and
attorneys must expedite the proceedings so as to distribute the deposit and to determine and pay
compensation.” FED. R. CIV. P. 71.1(j)(2).
This Court has previously addressed similar situations in other TVA eminent domain cases.
See U.S. Upon Relation of Tenn. Valley Auth. v. An Easement and Right-of-Way Over .24 Acre of
Land in Tallahatchie County, Miss., 2019 WL 3849163 (N.D. Miss. Aug. 15, 2019); see also U.S.
Upon Relation of Tenn. Valley Auth. v. Easements and Rights-of-Way Over a Total of 2.48 Acres
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of Land in Clay Cnty., Miss., 2020 WL 5517672 (N.D. Miss. Sept. 14, 2020). In both of those
cases, this Court adopted a procedure adopted by the Middle District of Georgia in Sabal Trail
Trans., LLC v. Real Estate, 2017 WL 3599163, at *1 (M.D. Ga. Aug. 21, 2017). Under that
procedure, the funds remain on deposit until further Order of the Court. Id. at *2. The named
Defendants, or any other named or unnamed person who claims interest in the compensation, can
then seek disbursement of the compensation by filing an application with the Court accompanied
by the following: the necessary tax-identification information and adequate documentation
confirming entitlement to the claimed share of the compensation. Id.
The Court also notes that this procedure is supported by the Declaration of Taking Act,
which in pertinent part provides that “[o]n application of the parties in interest, the court may order
that any part of the money deposited in the court be paid immediately for or on account of the
compensation to be awarded in the proceeding.” 40 U.S.C. §3114(c). The Act also directs the Court
to enter judgment against the Government for a deficiency “[i]f the compensation finally awarded
is more than the amount of money received by any person entitled to compensation[.]” Id. The
Court sees no reason why this procedure should not be applied in this case.
TVA’s Motion for Summary Judgment on the Issue of Just Compensation  is
GRANTED. The Court accepts TVA’s valuation of $10,350.00 for the easement and right-of-way
at issue in this case.
In order to resolve the apportionment issue, the Court adopts the procedure set forth above.
The named Defendants, or any other named or unnamed person who claims interest in the
compensation, will be provided an opportunity to seek disbursement by filing a written request
with this Court with the necessary information and documentation demonstrating that they are
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entitled to their claimed share of the compensation. To accomplish that procedure, TVA is hereby
ordered to provide the Court with a list of the last known addresses for all Defendants within
twenty-one (21) days.1 A separate Order specifically concerning the Procedure for Disbursement
will be entered after receipt of the addresses.
SO ORDERED, this the 17th day of November, 2021.
/s/ Sharion Aycock
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
The Court recognizes that Antal’s Declaration  included addresses for many of the potential claimants.
TVA should update this list to the greatest extent possible (if necessary) and provide the updated list to the
Court via email.
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