Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission, LLC v. 1.169 Acres et al
ORDER AND OPINION granting the requested easements, determining just compensation, and directing the Clerk of Court to disburse the deposited funds to Lucien Richardson in the amount of $3,000.00 in addition to any accrued interest. Signed by Honorable J Michelle Childs on 1/8/2018. (asni, ).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Dominion Energy Carolina Gas Transmission,
Civil Action No.: 3:16-cv-01974-JMC
1.169 Acres, in Richland County, South
Carolina located on Parcel R39100-02-05;
ERIC N. MANN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE
ESTATE OF ETTA N. MANN, EARL T.
RICHARDSON, ROBERT RICHARDSON,
RICHARDSON DAVIS, RUBYE LUCILLE
JACQUELINE LEANNA RICHARDSON
RICHARDSON, WALTER BUTLER, JR.,
KAREN WHITE, JANET FARRELL, GARY
WHITE, CHRISTOPHER WHITE, BERTHA
RICHARDSON, ELIZABETH H. SIMON,
AND JUDY H. GULLAX,
ORDER AND OPINION
RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This case arises from Dominion Energy Carolina Gas Transmission, LLC’s (“DCGT’s”)
exercise of its eminent domain powers pursuant to the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”), 15 U.S.C. § 717,
et seq. and the applicable Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) Certificate order.
DCGT brought this action under the NGA and Rule 71.1, Fed. R. Civ. P., seeking certain
easements (“easements” or “Rights of Way”) it requires in connection with its Eastover pipeline
project (“Project”) over property described as follows (the “Property”):
All that certain piece, parcel or tract of land situate, lying and being on the waters
of the Wateree River, in the County of Richland, State of South Carolina, being
Tract “B” on a plat of a part of lands allotted Emma J. Bynum and Drury M. Bynum,
being designated as Tract No. 13 on a plat of J. B. Seay, dated December 17, 1915
and recorded in the Office of the Register of Mesne Conveyance for Richland
County in Plat Book “C” at Page 205. The said tract containing 37.5 acres is in
shape a rectangle parallelogram, measuring on its Northern and Southern sides
eight and three-tenths (8.3) chains and on its Eastern and Western sides forty-two
(42) chains; bounded North by Estate of Braydon; East by Tract “C” on said plat;
South by lands of Wilson, et al.; and West by Tract “A” on said plat.
Richland County TMS# R39100-02-05.
The court has previously granted partial summary judgment as to DCGT’s right to
condemn the requested easements over the property (ECF No. 61). By way of this Order, the court
hereby grants the requested easements, determines just compensation, and directs the Clerk of
Court to disburse the deposited funds as set forth herein.
This matter was tried by the court on January 8, 2017. (ECF No. 94.) Sarah Spruill
appeared on behalf of DCGT. Lucien Richardson was the only landowner present. 1 Based on the
evidence presented, the court rules as follows:
No landowner had appeared prior to the date of trial. The court has previously determined that
all parties were properly served with notice of this action (ECF No. 61). In addition, counsel for
DCGT represented that a notice of hearing was sent to all landowners for whom she had an address.
The court notes Mr. Richardson’s testimony at trial requesting the renunciation of two named
Defendants in this case, Elizabeth H. Simon and July H. Gullax, on the basis that their deceased
father, Robert E. Henderson, relinquished his rights and interest to any properties owned by his
wife (and heir to the Property), Sarah Henderson. Based on chain of title documents corroborating
Mr. Richardson’s testimony (ECF No. 95), the court grants Mr. Richardson’s request.
In its Amended Complaint, DCGT seeks easement interests in the Property. (ECF No. 68.)
DCGT specified that the terms of the easement will be as follows:
To the extent Exhibit C shows a Permanent Easement, DCGT seeks an easement or
Right-of-Way to lay, construct, excavate for, maintain, inspect, operate, protect,
repair, renew, remove, or replace a pipeline for the transportation of natural gas,
including any appurtenances (including but not limited to metering facilities,
regulating facilities, valve facilities, fences, gates, concrete pads, cathodic
protection, etc. and any communications facilities incidental thereto) necessary or
desirable for regulatory compliance at any time, together with the right of ingress
and egress to access said easement or Right-of-Way. To the extent Exhibit C shows
a Temporary Workspace Area or Additional Temporary Workspace, DCGT seeks
an easement for purposes of the construction of the Project together with the right
of ingress and egress to access said easement. The requested temporary easement
shall terminate upon the completion of the Project or such earlier date as determined
(ECF No. 67 at ¶ 14).
Based on the evidence presented at the trial of this matter, the Project has been completed
and was put in service on November 10, 2016. Thus, the Temporary Easements will be deemed
terminated at such time as all work required by the FERC Certificate order is completed.
Further, the court grants the requested Permanent Easement. Within the “50’ Wide DCGT
Easement Area,” DCGT and its successors, affiliates, agents, and assigns will have the right to lay,
construct, excavate for, maintain, inspect, operate, protect, repair, renew, remove, or replace a
pipeline for the transportation of natural gas, including any appurtenances (including but not
limited to metering facilities, regulating facilities, valve facilities, fences, gates, concrete pads,
cathodic protection, etc. and any communications facilities incidental thereto) necessary or
desirable for regulatory compliance at any time, together with the right of ingress and egress to
access said easement or Right-of-Way. No present or future landowner may interfere with this
Permanent Easement, and all present and future landowners will be bound by any DCGT Right of
Way guidelines. This Order or a certified copy thereof may be recorded in the Richland County
Register of Deeds.
B. Just Compensation
During the trial, DCGT presented the testimony of Carlton Segars. Segars is a certified
real estate appraiser in South Carolina and based upon the testimony that he gave concerning his
credentials, the court finds that he is an expert in the area of real estate appraisals. Segars testified
concerning the appraisal performed regarding the property and the methodology used to determine
the fair market value of the easements in question. As of June 11, 2016, Segars opined that just
compensation for both the permanent and the temporary easements would be one thousand five
hundred nineteen dollars and three cents ($1,519.03), which he rounded to one thousand six
hundred dollars ($1,600.00). He further confirmed that his opinion as to value of the easements
remained the same as of October 28, 2016, the date of the court’s order granting immediate
possession (ECF No. 62). The court finds that this testimony is credible and more than sufficient
to meet DCGT’s burden of proof with respect to determining fair market value.
DCGT has stipulated to a value of three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) in order to satisfy the
jurisdictional requirements for this court under the NGA, 15 U.S.C. § 717f(h). (ECF No. 67 at ¶
7). DCGT deposited this amount with the Clerk of Court on October 31, 2016, as provided in the
court’s order granting immediate possession (ECF No. 62).
Therefore, the court accepts the stipulated value of $3,000.00 and finds that the deposited
funds together with any accrued interest will be the just compensation amount. Accordingly, the
court finds that DCGT has satisfied its obligation to provide just compensation for the easements,
including an award of interest.
Mr. Richardson, as the only landowner present at the trial, fondly expressed the familial
significance of the Property and adamantly conveyed his desire to have the compensation amount
evenly distributed amongst his above-captioned family members.
However, the court was
informed, through Mr. Richardson’s testimony and tax records presented at trial (ECF No. 95),
that he has been the sole taxpayer on the property since 2005. Mr. Richardson has paid more than
$20,000.00 towards property taxes on the land and has been the lone provider of maintenance and
upkeep to the land. Accordingly, despite Mr. Richardson’s wishes, the court is emboldened by the
overriding interest in equity to award the full compensation amount to Mr. Richardson.
Based on the foregoing, the court awards Lucien Richardson $3,000.00 in addition to any
IT IS SO ORDERED.
United States District Judge
January 8, 2018
Columbia, South Carolina
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