Roberts v. New York City
295 U.S. 264 (1935)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Roberts v. New York City, 295 U.S. 264 (1935)

Roberts v. New York City

No. 546

Argued April 2, 3, 1935

Decided April 29, 1935

295 U.S. 264

Syllabus

1. In condemnation proceedings, as in lawsuits generally, the Fourteenth Amendment is not a guaranty that a trial shall be devoid of error. P. 295 U. S. 277.

2. A mere underestimate of the compensation to be paid for property token in condemnation will not characterize the proceeding, otherwise fair, as wanting due process; the error must be gross and obvious. P. 295 U. S. 277.

3. The City of New York condemned and removed a spur of an elevated railway system, which, in operation, was no longer of value to the business and which had been found by state authority to be no longer a public convenience and necessity and to have become an obstruction to the public use of the street in which it stood. The state courts, in determining damages, which were assessed against the owners of the abutting lots, allowed the company nothing on account of its franchise or its easement to use the street, and only the scrap value of the demolished structure. For so-called easements -- i.e. the right to obstruct or impair each abutter's easements of light, air and access -- which, by the law of New York, the Company had been obliged to acquire by purchase or condemnation as a condition to lawful erection and operation of the spur, the award was the amount judicially determined to be their value when the rights were acquired from the abutters years before -- an amount much less than would be the cost of acquiring them anew, in changed conditions.

Held:

(1) Whatever the precise classification of the rights acquired from abutting owners, they are not separable from the franchise, and it cannot be said that the state courts infringed the constitutional limitation, or even that they erred as a matter of law, in valuing them at no more than their original cost. P. 295 U. S. 281.

(2) It was not arbitrary or unreasonable, upon the evidence, to value the structure as scrap (since the value of the "easements" could be realized only by abandoning the spur), and to allow nothing on account of the railway's corporate franchise or its public easement in the street. P. 295 U. S. 284.

Page 295 U. S. 265

4. Damages in condemnation are measured by the loss to the owner, not by the gain to the taker. P. 295 U. S. 282.

265 N.Y. 170, 192 N.E. 188, affirmed.

Certiorari, 293 U.S. 554, to review judgment sustaining an assessment of damages for the taking in condemnation by the City of a spur forming part of the elevated railway system of the Manhattan Railway Company. Reports of the earlier proceedings in the State Supreme Court at trial term and in the Appellate Division will be found in: 126 Misc. 879; 141 id. 565; 143 id. 129; 229 App.Div. 617; 238 id. 832.

Page 295 U. S. 274

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