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Brown v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
73 F.3d 1100 (1996)


The Browns (plaintiffs) owned a ranch used for recreation, cattle ranching, and hunting, which they intended to improve and sell for recreational use. Beginning in 1991, the United States Air Force (defendant) used a nearby airfield for training exercises which required planes to fly lower than 500 feet above the ground. The exercises were conducted over approximately 100 acres of the Browns’ property. Though the Air Force had obtained an easement in the airspace over land adjoining the Browns’ ranch, the Browns refused to grant one over their land. In 1992, the Browns filed suit against the United States government, claiming that the training exercises constituted a taking for which they were entitled to compensation. The Browns conceded that the exercises did not affect their ranching or hunting profits, but presented expert testimony to show that the exercises had significantly diminished the resale value of the ranch for recreational use. The trial court found in favor of the United States, concluding that the Browns were not entitled to compensation because they had failed to show that the exercises constituted a substantial interference with their use and enjoyment of the surface property. The Browns appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Plager, J.)

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