In this action stemming from an expansion effort by plaintiff gas line company to build nearly 100 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline through Virginia’s Southside region, a Richmond U.S. District Court grants the company’s motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff’s proposed project will allow it to transport natural gas from a “pooling point” in New Jersey to a new natural gas-fired power station that a Dominion Virginia Power affiliate is building in Brunswick County, Va. Plaintiff seeks to condemn a permanent easement over and across 2.322 acres of defendant real property, as well as certain non-exclusive temporary easements over and across 3.209 acres of the same land, for the purposes of laying, maintaining and operating the 24-inch pipeline in the Area Proposed Right of Way.
In a Sept. 2 order and opinion, the court found all defendants were properly served, and only one filed an answer or notice of appearance as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 71.1(e). The court overruled her objections, however, and deemed her unsworn response to plaintiff’s preliminary motions improper. The court ruled that plaintiff has the substantive legal right to condemn the temporary easement pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 717f(h). Pursuant to the court’s Sept. 2 order, plaintiff deposited $2,000 into the court’s registry as security for the preliminary injunction authorizing plaintiff to take immediate possession of the permanent easement and temporary easements.
The court will now determine just compensation. The appropriate measure of compensation in a condemnation proceeding is the fair market value of the property as of the date of the taking. Plaintiff is the only party to present any evidence establishing the fair market value of the permanent easement and temporary easements. The court concludes there is no genuine issue of material fact and plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment.
Considering both the breadth and quality of the appraisal report presented by plaintiff, the court accepts the report’s suggestion as to the fair market value of these easements. Only those defendants who have yet to receive compensation for their interest in the easements are entitled to claim an award of just compensation, and the share awarded must be proportionate to their ownership interests.
Plaintiff’s evidence indicates the remaining defendants have a 38.746 percent ownership interest in the property. The remaining defendants are entitled to a just compensation award of $774.292, which reflects their combined 38.746 percent share of the $2,000 fair market value of the easements. Plaintiff is entitled to a proportionate refund of $1,225.08.
The court finds plaintiff should be vested with indefeasible legal title to the easements.
Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC v. Permanent easement totaling 2.322 acres (Hudson) No. 3:14cv400, Nov. 25, 2014; USDC at Richmond, Va. VLW 014-3-613, 8 pp.