Grand River Dam Auth. v. Grand-Hydro
335 U.S. 359 (1948)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Grand River Dam Auth. v. Grand-Hydro, 335 U.S. 359 (1948)

Grand River Dam Authority v. Grand-Hydro

No. 6

Argued October 12-13, 1948

Decided November 22, 1948

335 U.S. 359

Syllabus

1. Petitioner is a public corporation created by Oklahoma to develop and sell hydroelectric power. Respondent is an Oklahoma private corporation with the usual powers of a public utility. In a condemnation proceeding in an Oklahoma state court, petitioner sought a determination of the amount of compensation to which respondent was entitled for land of respondent which was appropriated by petitioner for a hydroelectric project on the Grand River in Oklahoma. Petitioner had a federal license, issued under the Federal Power Act, for the project; respondent did not. In the condemnation proceeding, petitioner did not rely on the Federal Power Act or on the federal license, but only on the state law of condemnation. The State Supreme Court decided that, in determining the amount of compensation to which the respondent was entitled, the value of the land for use as a power site could be taken into consideration, and that expert testimony as to that value was admissible.

Held: the Federal Power Act has not so far affected the use or value of the land for power site purposes as to deprive it of all fair market value for those purposes, and thus deprive the evidence of such value of all probative weight in this case. Pp. 335 U. S. 361-369, 335 U. S. 372-373.

2. The fact that the state court purported to rest its decision largely on state law does not dispense with the necessity of this Court's considering the question as to the effect of the Federal Power Act presented by this record. P. 335 U. S. 369.

3. It is for this Court to determine whether questions of federal law were necessarily, although only impliedly, adjudicated by the state court. Pp. 335 U. S. 369-370.

4. The State Supreme Court's statement of the Oklahoma law as to the proper measure of the value of the land in the state court condemnation proceeding is accepted here. Pp. 335 U. S. 370-372.

5. The Court expresses no opinion as to what would be the appropriate measure of value in a condemnation proceeding brought by the United States or by one of its licensees in reliance upon rights derived under the Federal Power Act. P. 335 U. S. 373.

Page 335 U. S. 360

6. A different result from that here reached is not required by provisions of the Federal Power Act relating to the determination of the rate base of a federal licensee, nor by provisions of the Act relating to recapture of a project by the United States upon expiration of a federal license. Pp. 335 U. S. 374-375.

7. There is nothing in the Federal Power Act which requires that it be interpreted as superseding the state law of condemnation and as restricting the measure of valuation which lawfully may be used by the courts of Oklahoma in a condemnation proceeding for the acquisition of land for power site purposes by an agency of that State. P. 335 U. S. 374.

8. No opinion is expressed upon issues which might arise in the event the Federal Power Commission passes upon a rate base for the project or the United States proceeds to recapture the project upon expiration of the federal license. Pp. 335 U. S. 374-375.

200 Okla. 157, 201 P.2d 225, affirmed.

A condemnation proceeding instituted by petitioner in a state court of Oklahoma, to have determined the amount of compensation to which the respondent was entitled for land appropriated by petitioner for a hydroelectric project, resulted in a verdict and judgment for a specified sum. The State Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. 192 Okla. 693, 139 P.2d 798. The new trial resulted in a verdict and judgment for an increased amount. The State Supreme Court affirmed. 200 Okla. 157, 201 P.2d 225. This Court denied certiorari, 332 U.S. 841, but, on rehearing, granted it, 333 U.S. 852. Affirmed, p. 335 U. S. 375.

Page 335 U. S. 361

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