Justia Utilities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
Byler v. Va. Elec. & Power Co.
In these appeals the Supreme Court considered whether the Virginia Constitution provides for a cause of action by a landowner for inverse condemnation when the allegation of the complaint is that the landowner's property has been damaged by a diminution in value resulting from a public utility's construction and operation of an electrical transmission line for public use on nearby property. The trial court sustained the public utility's demurrers with prejudice, finding that because the complaints did not allege that the entire property had been rendered useless, and because the property had not lost all economic value, a damaging under the Constitution had not occurred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court applied the wrong standard in reviewing the pleadings; but (2) under the proper standard, the complainants could not state a cause of action for declaratory relief for inverse condemnation when the sole damage alleged was a diminution in value arising from the public use of proximately located property, and therefore, the circuit court's judgment sustaining the demurrers was correct under the proper standard.View "Byler v. Va. Elec. & Power Co." on Justia Law
Wimmer v. Pub. Util. Comm.
Ohio Edison Company owned a transmission-line easement running over property owned by Kurt Wimmer and the Wimmer Family Trust (the Wimmers). When the company sought to remove the trees in the easement on the Wimmers' property, the family objected. The court of common pleas found in favor of Ohio Edison, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated that judgment on the authority of Corrigan v. Illum. Co., which held that the Public Utilities Commission, not a court, was required to decide whether tree removal was reasonable. The Wimmers then took their complaint to the Commission, which ruled in Ohio Edison's favor and permitted it to remove the trees. The Supreme Court affirmed where the Wimmers did not show any error in the Commission's order.View "Wimmer v. Pub. Util. Comm." on Justia Law
Wilkes v. Ohio Edison Co.
Ohio Edison owned an easement over which an electric transmission line ran. Thomas and Derrell Wilkes owned a portion of the property subject to the easement and built an above-ground swimming pool and storage shed in the area of the easement. When it discovered the structures, Ohio Edison filed a complaint in the court of common pleas to enforce the easement, asking the court to order the Wilkeses to remove their structures. The Wilkeses filed their own complaint a few months later with the public utilities commission, asking the commission to order the company to move its transmission line. The commission dismissed the Wilkeses' complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Wilkeses did not demonstrate that the commission erred in dismissing their complaint for lack of jurisdiction. View "Wilkes v. Ohio Edison Co." on Justia Law
Conner v. City of Dillon
The City of Dillon entered an agreement with the McNeills allowing them to connect to a water main for their domestic water supply. Later, the City granted permission to the McNeills to activate an existing water service to their property. The Conners bought the McNeills' subdivided lot, and the City billed and collected for the water that was furnished to the Conners. The water main subsequently froze solid, leaving the Conners without water service for weeks. The Conners sued the City for breach of contract and negligence. The district court entered summary judgment for the City, concluding (1) there was no implied contract between the Conners and the City, and therefore, the Conners' water use was unlawful; and (2) the negligence claim was barred by City Ordinance 13.04.150, which provides that the City is not liable for claims from interruption of water service resulting from shutting off the water in its mains. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the City had a legal obligation to provide water to the Conners under an implied contract; and (2) section 13.04.150 did not bar the Conners' claims because the City did not decide to shut off the water service.View "Conner v. City of Dillon" on Justia Law
Roberts v. Hanceville Water Works & Sewer Board
Novus Utilities, Inc. sought a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court to direct the Cullman Circuit Court to dismiss negligence and private-nuisance claims against it as time-barred. Eleven property owners residing in Cullman County sued Defendants the Hanceville Water Works & Sewer Board and Southwest Water Company, alleging that the defendants had allowed approximately two million gallons of untreated raw sewage from the sewage-treatment facility operated by the Board to be discharged into waterways in Cullman County. They alleged that on January 21, 30, and 31, 2008, the sewage treatment facility released the untreated raw sewage, and that release created a health hazard and damaged and devalued their property. Novus was added as a defendant to the suit as a subsidiary of Southwest. Novus moved to dismiss claims against it. After careful consideration, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court was correct in denying Novus' motion to dismiss, and denied its petition for a writ of mandamus to quash the trial court's judgment. View "Roberts v. Hanceville Water Works & Sewer Board" on Justia Law
Central Neb. Pub. Power v. Jeffrey Lake Dev.
A public power and irrigation district (District) filed an action against a development and other sublessees (collectively, Development) to quiet title to land owned by District and leased by Development. Development filed motions to dismiss the complaint, arguing that District's complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be grante. The district court sustained the motions and overruled Development's motion for attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in granting Development's motions to dismiss because (1) the allegations in District's complaint, taken as true, were plausible and thus were sufficient to suggest that District had presented a justiciable controversy, and (2) the motions to dismiss filed in this case provided no notice that Development was asserting the affirmative defenses of judicial estoppel, collateral estoppel and res judicata. Remanded. View "Central Neb. Pub. Power v. Jeffrey Lake Dev." on Justia Law
Daniel, et al. v. Amicalola Elec. Membership Corp.
Plaintiffs filed suit against defendant seeking a declaratory injunction that defendant did not have an easement on their property, damages for trespass and conversion for a 2007 and 2008 incident, an injunction against further trespass, and attorney fees. Defendant asserted as a defense that the lawsuit was filed after the one-year statute of limitations under OCGA 46-3-204. At issue was whether summary judgment against plaintiffs was proper. The court affirmed the trial court's rejection of plaintiffs' constitutional challenges to the one-year statute of limitations. The court then affirmed in part and reversed in part the grant of summary judgment because issues of material fact remained regarding the existence of a valid prescriptive easement and plaintiffs' trespass and conversion claims based on defendant's 2008 actions were not barred by OCGA 46-3-204.View "Daniel, et al. v. Amicalola Elec. Membership Corp." on Justia Law