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United States v. 564.54 Acres of Land

United States Supreme Court
441 U.S. 506 (1979)


The United States government (plaintiff) initiated a condemnation proceeding to acquire land owned by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Lutheran Church in America (Church) (defendant). The Church operated three nonprofit summer camps on the land. Before trial, the government offered to pay the Church $485,400 as the fair market value of the Church’s property. The Church rejected the offer and demanded $5.8 million, the asserted cost of developing equivalent facilities at a new site. This extra amount was necessary because the new facilities would be subject to regulations from which the current facilities were exempt. At trial, a jury determined that the Church was not entitled to compensation for substitute facilities. The appeals court reversed, holding that the jury should have been instructed that compensation for substitute facilities would be appropriate if the facility provided a benefit to the community that would not be as fully provided after the facility was taken.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

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