Olson v. United States
292 U.S. 246 (1934)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Olson v. United States, 292 U.S. 246 (1934)

Olson v. United States

No. 580

Argued March 9, 1934

Decided April 30, 1934*

292 U.S. 246

Syllabus

1. By the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Federal Constitution, as also under Art. I, § 13 of the Constitution of Minnesota, appropriation of private property for a public use is forbidden unless a full and exact equivalent be returned to the owner. P. 292 U. S. 254.

2. That equivalent is the market value of the property at the time of the taking contemporaneously paid in money. P. 292 U. S. 255.

3. The sum required to be paid the owner of land does not depend upon the uses to which he has devoted it, but is to be ascertained upon just consideration of all the uses for which it is suitable. P. 292 U. S. 255.

4. The fact that the most profitable use of a parcel can be made only in combination with other lands does not necessarily exclude that use from consideration if the possibility of combination is reasonably sufficient to affect market value. Nor does the fact that it may be or is being acquired by eminent domain negative consideration of availability for use in the public service. P. 292 U. S. 256.

5. But the value to be ascertained does not include, and the owner is not entitled to compensation for, any element resulting subsequently to or because of the taking. Considerations that may not reasonably be held to affect market value are excluded. P. 292 U. S. 256.

6. Elements affecting value that depend upon events or combinations of occurrences which, while within the realm of possibility, are not fairly shown to be reasonably probable should be excluded from consideration. P. 292 U. S. 257.

7. Dams constructed for power and other purposes at the outlet of the Lake of the Woods in Canada had raised the water level on the shore lands, situate in Canada and Minnesota. Arrangement was made by treaty for maintaining the level, under control of both Governments, to a designated contour in the interests of navigation, as well as power production and other uses. For the costs of acquiring the easement of flowage within its territory, the United

Page 292 U. S. 247

States assumed all liability to private landowners. In a suit to condemn such rights in Minnesota, brought under the Act of May 22, 1926, as amended, to carry out the treaty, held:

(1) That the use of Minnesota shorelands for reservoir purposes, as the result of the trespass committed by means of the dams, showed merely their physical adaptability to such purposes, but did not affect their market value. P. 292 U. S. 256.

(2) Having regard to the fact that the lands bordering the Lake and its islands, upon which flowage easements must be acquired to make lawful the raising of the level, are situate in two countries, and are held by very numerous private owners, by Indian Tribes, and by sovereign proprietors, there is no legal and practical possibility that any person -- other than the expropriating authority -- could acquire those easements. Therefore, there was no element of value belonging to the landowners that could legitimately be attributed to use and adaptability of their lands for reservoir purposes, and evidence of competition between power companies for purchase of flowage rights from private owners, and of prices paid, and of estimates or opinions based, upon the assumption that value to owners includes elements arising from the prospect of the Government's acquiring the flowage rights was properly rejected. Boom Co. v. Patterson,98 U. S. 403, distinguished. Pp. 292 U. S. 557, 292 U. S. 560.

8. A point not made in the specification of errors or in the reasons given in the petition for certiorari is not properly before the Court. P. 292 U. S. 262.

9. Under the Act of May 22, 1926, providing for acquisition of flowage easements on lands in Minnesota bordering upon the Lake of the Woods in Minnesota, claims for damages caused by unlawful floodings prior to the taking are not included in the condemnation proceedings, but are to be dealt with by the Secretary of War under § 3 of the statute. P. 292 U. S. 262.

67 F.2d 24 affirmed.

Certiorari, 290 U.S. 623, to review the affirmance of judgments in three condemnation cases which were tried together before a jury.

Page 292 U. S. 248

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