1. The obligation of the United States to pay just compensation
for private property taken under its power of eminent domain rest
upon the Fifth Amendment, independent of statute or express
promise. P. 290 U. S.
2. A promise to pay is implied because the duty is imposed by
the Amendment. Id.
3. In a suit under the Tucker Act to recover just compensation
for property taken by the Government, there may be claimed and
allowed, in the form of interest, such addition to the value of the
property at the time of the taking as will produce the full
equivalent of that value paid contemporaneously with the taking. P.
290 U. S.
4. This is not a claim for interest within the meaning of
Jud.Code § 177. P. 290 U. S.
5. United States v. North American Co., 253 U.
, distinguished. P. 290 U. S. 18
63 F.2d 326, reversed.
Certiorari, 289 U.S. 719, to review a judgment of the Circuit
Court of Appeals reversing the District Court as respects allowance
of interest in a suit for just compensation brought under the
Page 290 U. S. 15
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner Jacobs and the testator of petitioner Gunter owned
farms lying along Jones creek, a tributary of the Tennessee river,
in Jackson county, Alabama. Across this river the United States
constructed Widow's Bar Dam under authority of Acts of Congress, 39
Stat. 399; 40 Stat. 1282. Surveys by the government showed that the
construction of the dam caused an increase in the occasional
overflows of petitioners' lands, and negotiations followed for the
purchase of easements of flowage. Offers of settlement being deemed
to be inadequate, petitioners brought separate suits under the
Tucker Act (28 U.S.C. § 41(20)) to recover compensation for the
property taken. The Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the
judgment of the District Court in the suit of Jacobs, held that he
was entitled to compensation. 45 F.2d 34. Thereupon the two suits
were consolidated, and petitioners had judgment. The District Court
found that they were entitled to the amount of damage caused by the
construction of the dam as of the date of its completion (October
"together with interest thereon at 6 percent from the date of
said taking until now, as just compensation under the Fifth
Amendment to the Constitution of the United
Page 290 U. S. 16
On appeal by the government, the Circuit Court of Appeals held
that interest was not recoverable. 63 F.2d 326. This Court granted
certiorari. 289 U.S. 719.
The only question before us is as to the item of interest. The
government contemplated the flowage of the lands, that damage would
result therefrom, and that compensation would be payable. A
servitude was created by reason of intermittent overflows which
impaired the use of the lands for agricultural purposes. 45 F.2d p.
37; 63 F.2d p. 327. There was thus a partial taking of the lands
for which the government was bound to make just compensation under
the Fifth Amendment. United States v. Cress, 243 U.
, 243 U. S.
-329; United States v. Lynah, 188 U.
, 188 U. S. 470
Hurley v. Kincaid, 285 U. S. 95
285 U. S. 104
The Circuit Court of Appeals, distinguishing the present suits from
condemnation proceedings instituted by the government, held that
the suits were founded upon an implied contract, and hence that
interest could not be allowed, citing United States v. North
American Transportation & Trading Co., 253 U.
This ruling cannot be sustained. The suits were based on the
right to recover just compensation for property taken by the United
States for public use in the exercise of its power of eminent
domain. That right was guaranteed by the Constitution. The fact
that condemnation proceedings were not instituted and that the
right was asserted in suits by the owners did not change the
essential nature of the claim. The form of the remedy did not
qualify the right. It rested upon the Fifth Amendment. Statutory
recognition was not necessary. A promise to pay was not necessary.
Such a promise was implied because of the duty to pay imposed by
the amendment. The suits were thus founded upon the Constitution of
the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 41(20).
The amount recoverable was just compensation, not inadequate
compensation. The concept of just compensation
Page 290 U. S. 17
is comprehensive, and includes all elements, "and no specific
command to include interest is necessary when interest or its
equivalent is a part of such compensation." The owner is not
limited to the value of the property at the time of the taking; "he
is entitled to such addition as will produce the full equivalent of
that value paid contemporaneously with the taking." Interest at a
proper rate "is a good measure by which to ascertain the amount so
to be added." Seaboard Air Line R. Co. v. United States,
261 U. S. 299
261 U. S. 306
That suit was brought by the owner under § 10 of the Lever Act (40
Stat. 279), which, in authorizing the President to requisition
property for public use and to pay just compensation, said nothing
as to interest. But the Court held that the right to just
compensation could not be taken away by statute or be qualified by
the omission of a provision for interest where such an allowance
was appropriate in order to make the compensation adequate. See
also United States v. Rogers, 255 U.
, 255 U. S.
The principle was restated in Phelps v. United States,
274 U. S. 341
There, the suit was brought in the Court of Claims, and that court
gave judgment for the value of the property as it was found to be
at the time of the requisition. Plaintiffs insisted that they were
entitled to an additional amount to produce the equivalent of the
value of the property "paid contemporaneously," and that, for this
purpose, interest as a reasonable measure should be allowed. This
Court sustained the claim. The Court held that judgment in 1926 for
the value of the use of the property in 1918 or 1919, without more,
was not sufficient to constitute just compensation, that the claim
was not for "interest" within the meaning of § 177 of the Judicial
Code (28 U.S.C. § 284), and that that provision did not preclude
the recovery of the additional amount asked. To the same effect are
Brooks-Scanlon Corp. v.
Page 290 U. S. 18
265 U. S. 106
265 U. S. 123
Liggett & Myers Tobacco Co. v. United States,
274 U. S. 215
The case of United States v. North American Transp. &
Trad. Co., supra,
cannot be regarded as establishing a
different rule for the instant case. See Seaboard Air Line R.
Co. v. United States, supra,
p. 261 U. S. 305
Phelps v. United States, supra,
pp. 274 U. S.
-344. The North American case rested upon its special
facts. There, the original taking was tortious, and created no
liability on the part of the government. Subsequent action was held
to create a liability which rested upon an implied contract. The
Court said that the suit was not founded upon the Fifth Amendment.
253 U.S. pp. 253 U. S.
-335. Suits brought to enforce the constitutional
right to just compensation are governed by the later decisions
which are directly in point.
The judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals is reversed, and
the cause is remanded for further proceedings in conformity with
It is so ordered.