A. Legal Cognizance
1. Briefly describe the facts.
The city of New London approved a development plan that was “projected to create in excess of one thousand jobs, to increase tax and other revenues, and to revitalize an economically distressed city, including its downtown and waterfront areas.” The project was to be built by private developers, who would replace a “faded residential neighborhood” with various for residential and commercial spaces. In gathering the land required for this project, the power of eminent domain was proposed to acquire the remaining 15 properties needed. The unwilling owners filed a suit claiming this would violate the “public use” restriction.
1. Which facts were key to the outcome?
The project would provide economic benefits, and the project was being built by a public company.
2. Legal issue:
3. What legal issue(s) does this case illustrate (i.e. why is this case in the chapter)?
1. What are all of the elements of the main legal rule that this case illustrates? For instance, if the case is about undue influence, list ALL of the elements that the court in this case said had to be proven by the plaintiff.
Public use is interpreted by most states to mean “public advantage.” This gives the power of eminent domain to private companies when the result would be advantageous to the public as a whole.
Repeat 2. for each issue raised. (For example, a case may discuss 1. Whether there is an implied-in-fact contract, and II. Whether the UCC or common law applied. If so, you will repeat 2. for each of these two issues.)
B. Expand Perspective, Gain Interpersonal Understanding, and Critically Assess Implications
1. Prevailing party’s point of view:
2. What legal arguments were made by the prevailing party?
The city of New London claims that because economic benefit will arise out the project, the use of eminent domain is valid with just compensation.
1. What facts, legal reasoning, social policy, and ethical principles would support a ruling for the prevailing party?
The broadness of the application of public use and the fact that this project’s benefit to the public is very apparent aids the prevailing party.
1. What were the probable motivations behind the prevailing party’s actions leading up to the dispute? After the dispute?
The city needs this land to complete their project to better the community overall.
Repeat 3. for each and every issue in the case.
4. Losing party’s point of view:
5. What legal arguments were made by the losing party?
The owners of the properties claim that this is not an acceptable public use to give the private company the right to take their land, even with just compensation.
1. What facts, legal reasoning, social policy, and ethical principles would support a ruling for the losing party?
The property owners attempted to use the fact that eminent domain would be given to a private company, that the only benefit was economic and not reason enough to take their property, and that allowing the use of eminent domain “impermissibly blurs the boundary between public and private takings.”
1. What were the probable motivations behind the losing party’s actions leading up to the dispute? After the dispute?
They obviously did not want to be forced out of their property for the sake of development that might not be as successful as it was proposed to be.
Repeat 4. for each and every issue in the case.
5. Judge’s point of view:
6. How did the court rule on each argument?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled with the Supreme Court of Connecticut that the city’s proposed takings were valid.
1. What facts, legal reasoning, social policy, and ethical principles did the court use to support its ruling?
The application of public use and the presence of apparent economic development in light of this project being completed.
1. What were the probable motivations behind the judge’s decision?
The courts made clear that their job was not to determine the wisdom of allowing the properties to be taken, but to determine whether a valid public service would result from the plan. They sided with the city because “promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government,” thus validating the public use circumstances in this case.
Repeat 5. for each ruling made by the judge.
C. Find Recent Developments and Diverse Theories, Synthesize, and Compare
6. Different Rules: Pose the question “What if the court adopted a different legal rule?”
1. Search the web for other articles to refer to in your article or call an attorney or business professional who may have experience with this type of issue. Write a brief one-paragraph summary of this case or article:
A similar case is found in Bauder v. Delaware County. This case involves Delaware County using eminent domain to take land from Scott and Kathy Bauder in order to extend Sawmill Parkway into the Delaware city limits. The Bauder’s argued that there was already adequate roadways, but ultimately the courts ruled that the city could take the land in return for a total payment of $950,000 to the Bauder’s.
1. Ponder and reflect to compare this case to recent news and cases. This is the really cool part. You will be thinking like a legally astute manager, owner, or professional as you read, analyze and compare cases to draw your conclusions. Some neat ideas to help with your analysis: If the outcomes of the recent cases you found are different, can you make sense of the different outcomes? Are there different legal standards that make for different outcomes? Is there a trend leaning more in favor of a plaintiff or defendant’s position? Are the outcomes the same or different simply because the facts are similar or dissimilar? What accounts for the same or different results? Write your thoughts here:
Based on these two cases and my personal experience, it seems like the courts are consistent in allowing eminent domain when a municipality presents a benefit for the public as a whole before siding with personal individuals fighting for their right to keep their land.
D. Creative, Application and Critical Thinking Questions
1. Your point of view of the case in the book:
2. Do you agree or disagree with the actual outcome? Why or why not?
I agree with the courts in this case, but it’s difficult because 15 property owners will have lost their property despite the fact that they don’t want to give the property up to the city. I’ve seen a situation like this first-hand, and seeing the ultimate proof of the benefits that come from making a hard decision such as this, I have to side with the county.
1. Change it up: Pose the question “What if the facts were different?” Create changes to the facts that would probably result in a different outcome of the case and, using critical thinking and legal reasoning, tell why your change in facts would make a difference.
If the project was not expected to provide such a substantial number of jobs and increased revenue, the city might not have had the approval of the courts in saying they were not violating the public use application.
-How will you apply the lessons from this case to your future career?
Be aware of the consequences of eminent domain and what makes the application of public use valid and invalid.
1. Write recommendations to avoid future legal problems and that best suit the objectives of a firm or company in your chosen career field.
Governmental accountants must be cautious when determining the economic effect of a project that might involve applying public use to allow eminent domain
A. Legal Cognizance