DANFORTH V. UNITED STATES, 308 U. S. 271 (1939)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Danforth v. United States, 308 U.S. 271 (1939)

Danforth v. United States

No. 309

Argued November 8, 1939

Decided December 4, 1939

308 U.S. 271


1. Under § 4 of the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928, the Secretary of War may agree to purchase easements for flowage purposes, subject to the perfecting of the title through condemnation. P. 308 U. S. 282.

2. Such an agreement fixes the value in condemnation proceedings brought later by the Government against the landowner to make good title. Pp. 308 U. S. 282-283.

3. The jurisdiction of the Court in such condemnation proceedings depends upon § 4 of the Flood Control Act, and not upon the Tucker Act or the general statute of condemnation; the landowner may plead an agreement by the United States as fixing the amount that the Government must be adjudged to pay as compensation. P. 308 U. S. 282.

4. Just compensation under the Fifth Amendment for property taken for public use is determined as of the time of the taking. P. 308 U. S. 283.

5. Unless a taking has occurred previously, in actuality or by a statutory provision fixing it otherwise, the time of the taking in condemnation under the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928, is the time of the payment of the money award by the United States, and no interest is due upon the award. P. 308 U. S. 284.

In the absence of statutory direction, no interest accrues before the taking.

6. Fluctuations in the value of property which occur by reason of legislation authorizing a governmental project, or by reason of the beginning or completion of such project, are incidents of ownership, and a reduction in value so occurring cannot be considered as a "taking" in the constitutional sense. P. 308 U. S. 285.

7. The mere enactment of legislation authorizing condemnation of property cannot constitute a taking; the legislation may be repealed or modified, or appropriations may fail. P. 308 U. S. 286.

8. In this case, there was no taking by the commencement or completion of a set-back levee (between which levee and a riverside levee the owner's land lay), nor by the dynamiting of a levee by Army officers during a flood emergency (the levee later having been restored to its previous height), nor by the retention of water

Page 308 U. S. 272

from unusual floods for a somewhat longer period or its increase in depth or destructiveness as an incidental consequence of the set-back levee. Pp. 308 U. S. 286-287.

102 F.2d 5, 105 F.2d 318, modified.

Certiorari, post, p. 538, to review the affirmance of a judgment against the United States in a proceeding in condemnation under the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928.

Page 308 U. S. 276

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