Seiber v. United States

364 F.3d 1356, cert. denied, 543 U.S. 873 (2004)

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Seiber v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
364 F.3d 1356, cert. denied, 543 U.S. 873 (2004)

  • Written by Robert Cane, JD

Facts

Marsha and Alvin Seiber (plaintiffs) owned a 200-acre tract of forested land in Oregon. Forty acres of the Seibers’ tract were designated as nesting habitat for the protected spotted owl by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (the service) under the Endangered Species Act. The Seibers sought to harvest timber from their tract, including the 40 acres designated as spotted-owl nesting habitat, so they applied for an incidental-take permit to authorize logging on the 40 acres. The Seibers provided a habitat-conservation plan as required by the Endangered Species Act. The service reviewed the Seibers’ application and concluded that the habitat-conservation plan did not meet the criteria for issuance of an incidental-take permit because the plan failed to include proper mitigation measures. The formal rejection letter issued in July 2000 suggested some alternatives under which an incidental-take permit could be issued. In July 2001, the Seibers filed suit against the United States (defendant), claiming that the service’s permit denial constituted a taking for which just compensation was required under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. After the suit was filed, the government indicated that it no longer opposed logging on the 40 acres previously designated as spotted-owl nesting habitat. Ultimately, the service sent a letter to the Seibers on June 3, 2002, indicating that an incidental-take permit was no longer necessary because of changes in the spotted owl’s nesting patterns. As a result, the Seibers informed the Federal Claims Court that they were pursuing their claims as temporary takings rather than permanent takings. The Seibers sought compensation from the date their permit was finally denied on appeal to when the service informed them that an incidental-take permit was no longer required. The Court of Federal Claims granted summary judgment in favor of the government, finding that the Seibers had failed to show an adequate economic injury caused by the temporary taking. The Seibers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dyk, J.)

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