Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd.,
526 U.S. 687 (1999)

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No. 97-1235. Argued October 7, 1998-Decided May 24,1999

After petitioner city imposed more rigorous demands each of the five times it rejected applications to develop a parcel of land owned by respondent Del Monte Dunes and its predecessor in interest, Del Monte Dunes brought this suit under 42 U. S. C. § 1983. The District Court submitted the case to the jury on Del Monte Dunes' theory that the city effected a regulatory taking or otherwise injured the property by unlawful acts, without paying compensation or providing an adequate postdeprivation remedy for the loss. The court instructed the jury to find for Del Monte Dunes if it found either that Del Monte Dunes had been denied all economically viable use of its property or that the city's decision to reject the final development proposal did not substantially advance a legitimate public purpose. The jury found for Del Monte Dunes. In affirming, the Ninth Circuit ruled, inter alia, that the District Court did not err in allowing Del Monte Dunes' takings claim to be tried to a jury, because Del Monte Dunes had a right to a jury trial under § 1983; that whether Del Monte Dunes had been denied all economically viable use of the property and whether the city's denial of the final proposal substantially advanced legitimate public interests were, on the facts of this case, questions suitable for the jury; and that the jury reasonably could have decided each of these questions in Del Monte Dunes' favor.

Held: The judgment is affirmed. 95 F.3d 1422, affirmed.

JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IV-A-2, concluding that:

1. The Ninth Circuit's discussion of the rough-proportionality standard of Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U. S. 374, 391, is irrelevant to this Court's disposition of the case. Although this Court believes the Dolan standard is inapposite to a case such as this one, the jury instructions did not mention proportionality, let alone require the jury to find for Del Monte Dunes unless the city's actions were roughly proportional to its asserted interests. The rough-proportionality discussion, furthermore, was unnecessary to sustain the jury's verdict, given the Ninth Circuit's holding that Del Monte Dunes had proffered evidence sufficient to rebut




each of the city's reasons for denying the final development plan. pp. 702-703.

2. In holding that the jury could have found the city's denial of the final development plan not reasonably related to legitimate public interests, the Ninth Circuit did not impermissibly adopt a rule allowing wholesale interference by judge or jury with municipal land-use policies, laws, or routine regulatory decisions. As the city itself proposed the essence of the jury instructions, it cannot now contend that these instructions did not provide an accurate statement of the law. In any event, the instructions are consistent with this Court's previous general discussions of regulatory takings liability. See, e. g., Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U. S. 255, 260. Given that the city did not challenge below the applicability or continued viability of these authorities, the Court declines the suggestions of amici to revisit them. To the extent the city contends the District Court's judgment was based upon a jury determination of the reasonableness of its general zoning laws or land-use policies, its argument can be squared with neither the jury instructions nor the theory on which the case was tried, which were confined to the question whether, in light of the case's history and context, the city's particular decision to deny Del Monte Dunes' final development proposal was reasonably related to the city's proffered justifications. To the extent the city argues that, as a matter of law, its land-use decisions are immune from judicial scrutiny under all circumstances, its position is contrary to settled regulatory takings principles and is rejected. pp.703-707.

3. The District Court properly submitted the question of liability on Del Monte Dunes' regulatory takings claim to the jury. Pp. 707-711, 718-722.

(a) The propriety of such submission depends on whether Del Monte Dunes had a statutory or constitutional right to a jury trial, and, if it did, the nature and extent of the right. Because § 1983 does not itself confer the jury right when it authorizes "an action at law" to redress deprivation of a federal right under color of state law, the constitutional question must be reached. The Court's interpretation of the Seventh Amendment-which provides that "[i]n Suits at common law, ... the right of trial by jury shall be preserved" -has been guided by historical analysis comprising two principal inquiries: (1) whether the cause of action either was tried at law at the time of the founding or is at least analogous to one that was, and (2) if so, whether the particular trial decision must fall to the jury in order to preserve the substance of the common-law right as it existed in 1791. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U. S. 370,376. Pp. 707-708.

Full Text of Opinion

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