Almota Farmers Elevator & Warehouse Co. v. United States

In Almota Farmers Elevator & Warehouse Co. v. United States, 409 U.S. 470, 473, 93 S.Ct. 791, 35 L.Ed.2d 1 (1973), the government condemned a lessee's property interest (including improvements the lessee had made to the land), and the Ninth Circuit held that it was not necessary to take into account the possibility that the lease might have been renewed because that would be "speculative." The Supreme Court rejected this argument, holding that "by failing to ... take into account the possibility that the lease might be renewed as well as the possibility that it might not the lower court failed to recognize what a willing buyer would have paid for the improvements." Id. at 474, 93 S.Ct. 791. The Court explained that failing to account for this possibility "is not how the market would have valued the improvements" because a buyer would not have assumed that "there was no possibility of" a lease renewal. Id. at 478, 93 S.Ct. 791. In Almota Farmers Elevator & Whse. Co. v. United States, 409 U.S. 470 (1973) the Court noted that the taking of both estates was "one act" which required proceedings against owners of two interests. In Almota the Court stated: "At the time of that 'taking' Almota had an expectancy of continued occupancy of its grain elevator facilities. The Government must pay just compensation for those interests 'probably within the scope of the project from the time the Government was committed to it.' United States v. Miller, 317 U.S. (369), at 377 (, 63 S.Ct. 276, at 281, 87 L.Ed. 336). Cf. United States v. Reynolds, 397 U.S. (14), at 16-18 (, 90 S.Ct. 803, at 805-06, 25 L.Ed.2d 12). It may not take advantage of any depreciation in the property taken that is attributable to the project itself." We hold that the "interests" of the intervenors, as that term is used in Almota, existed at the time the agreement with the railroad was signed. For all practical purposes the "one taking" took place at that time. The agreement was to acquire the right-of-way and the leaseholds. The only real difference was the time span. Thus we equate the agreement with the taking in Almota for it had the very same purpose. We use the references in United States v. Miller, 317 U.S. 369, 63 S.Ct. 276, 87 L.Ed. 336, to the critical time for value. The Court there said: "If, in the instant case, the respondents' lands were, at the date of the authorizing Act, clearly within the confines of the project, the respondents were entitled to no enhancement in value due to the fact that their lands would be taken. If they were within the area likely to be taken for the project . . . ."