General Box Co. v. United States
351 U.S. 159 (1956)

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U.S. Supreme Court

General Box Co. v. United States, 351 U.S. 159 (1956)

General Box Co. v. United States

No. 383

Argued March 28, 1956

Decided May 7, 1956

351 U.S. 159

Syllabus

Petitioner owned timber on "batture," land located between low- and high-water mark on the Mississippi River in Louisiana, which was subject to a servitude of the State for levee purposes. The rights of the State had been donated to the United States. Without notice to petitioner, the timber was destroyed by a government contractor in levee-building operations, and petitioner sued in the federal court under the Tucker Act to recover its value.

Held:

1. This Court accepts the determination of the Court of Appeals that, under Louisiana law, prior notice to petitioner was not a prerequisite to an appropriation of its timber for levee purposes. Pp. 351 U. S. 164-166.

2. Petitioner's property was effectively appropriated by state authorities pursuant to the servitude, and therefore the United States is not liable to petitioner for its value. Pp. 351 U. S. 166-167.

3. The State having donated to the United States its rights as against petitioner's timber, the United States could exercise those rights to the fullest extent without incurring liability, just as the State could have done. P. 351 U. S. 167.

4. The destruction of petitioner's timber was not a taking by the United States in the exercise of the power of eminent domain for which the Fifth Amendment required compensation. P. 351 U. S. 167.

224 F.2d 7 affirmed.

Page 351 U. S. 160

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