Eldridge v. Trezevant - 160 U.S. 452 (1896)
U.S. Supreme Court
Eldridge v. Trezevant, 160 U.S. 452 (1896)
Eldridge v. Trezevant
Submitted October 17, 1896
Decided January 6, 1896
160 U.S. 452
In Louisiana, the constitution and laws of the state, as interpreted by its highest court, permit the taking, without compensation, of land for the construction of a public levee on the Mississippi River on the ground that the state has, under French laws existing before its transfer to the United States, a servitude on such lands for such a purpose, and they subject a citizen of another state owning such land therein, the title to which was derived from the United States, to the operation of the state law as so interpreted. Held that there was no error in this so long as the citizen of another state receives the same measure of right as that awarded to citizens of Louisiana in regard to their property similarly situated.
The provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution do not override public rights, existing in the form of servitudes or easements, which are held by the courts of a state to be valid under its constitution and laws.
William B. Eldridge, a citizen of the State of Mississippi, filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Louisiana a bill of complaint against Henry B. Richardson, Chief of the Board of Engineers of the State of Louisiana, and Peter J. Trezevant, citizens of Louisiana, whereby he sought to have the defendants enjoined from the construction of a certain public levee through a plantation belonging to the complainant and situated in Carroll Township, State of Louisiana.
An answer was filed admitting that the state board of engineers had projected and laid out a public levee through the complainant's plantation, and that a contract to construct said levee had been awarded to Peter J. Trezevant, but claiming that such proceedings were in pursuance of an act of the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana, approved February 10, 1879, and were therefore lawful
The case was heard upon the issues presented by the bill and answer, supplemented with an admission that none of the
acts complained of in the bill were wanton, malicious, or arbitrary.
On June 20, 1891, a decree was rendered adjudging the sufficiency of the answer and dismissing the bill, from which decree an appeal was taken to this Court.