Albert Hanson Lumber Co v. United States, No. 300

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBUTLER
Citation261 U.S. 581,67 L.Ed. 809,43 S.Ct. 442
PartiesALBERT HANSON LUMBER CO., Limited, v. UNITED STATES
Docket NumberNo. 300
Decision Date09 April 1923

261 U.S. 581
43 S.Ct. 442
67 L.Ed. 809
ALBERT HANSON LUMBER CO., Limited,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 300.
Argued Feb. 28, 1923.
Decided April 9, 1923.

Page 582

Mr. E. Howard McCaleb, of New Orleans, La., for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Alfred A. Wheat, of New York City, for the United States.

Mr. Justice BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The United States instituted condemnation proceedings in the District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to acquire the so-called Hanson Conal, and a strip of land 300 feet wide including the canal. Plaintiff in error was the owner and objected to the taking on grounds hereinafter stated. Judgment was given condemning the property and vesting title in the United States when the amount found in favor of the owner shall have been paid. The case was taken by the owner to the Circuit Court of

Page 583

Appeals, and there the judgment was affirmed. The case is here on writ of error to that court.

The owner contends that the District Court and Circuit Court of Appeals erred in holding that the acts of Congress relied upon by the government confer authority to condemn the canal proper and the land adjacent to and outside the limits thereof within a strip of a total width of 300 feet inclusive of the canal.

The property is sought to be taken to constitute a part of the intracoastal canal projected by the government extending from Boston to the Rio Grande. A number of acts of Congress1 must be considered. Prior to the Act

Page 584

approved July 25, 1912, it was contemplated that the right of way necessary for the enterprise would be secured to the United States free of cost. That act authorized the Secretary of War to purchase the Hanson Canal for use as a part of the waterway from Franklin to Mermentau, La., included in the intracoastal project, at a cost not to exceed $65,000. September 29, 1913, the board of directors of the owning company adopted resolutions which referred to the pertinent provisions of the Acts of Congress respectively approved March 2, 1907, and July 25, 1912, and recited that 'it is necessary for the United States to have and own a right of way three hundred feet in width in order to improve and enlarge said canal and make the same a part of the said inland waterway'; that the United States has proposed and agreed to purchase the canal, including a 300 feet wide strip of right of way and certain locks and other constructions thereon, and authorized and empowered the vice president, who was the chief executive officer of the corporation, upon the payment of $65,000 as compensation, to convey the property to the United States.

These resolutions and the other circumstances disclosed by the record make it sufficiently clear that the land on either side of the canal is essential to the enterprise. It

Page 585

follows that, if the condemnation of the canal proper is authorized, the land may also be taken.

For authority to condemn, the United States relies on the Acts of July 25, 1912 and August 1, 1888. The pertinent provisions are:

'Improving waterway from Franklin to Mermentau, Louisians: The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to purchase, for use as a part of said waterway, the so-called Hanson Canal * * * at a cost not to exceed $65,000. * * *' 37 Stat. c. 253, p. 212.

'That in every case in which the Secretary of the Treasury or any other officer of the government has been, or hereafter shall be, authorized to procure real estate for the erection of a public building or for other public uses he shall be, and hereby is, authorized to acquire the same for the United States by condemnation, under judicial process, whenever in his opinion it is necessary or advantageous to the government to do so, * * *' and jurisdiction is conferred upon the District Courts of proceedings for such condemnation, and the practice, pleadings, forms and proceedings are made to conform as near as may be to those existing in like cases in the courts of the state within which such District Courts are held. 25 Stat. c. 728, p. 357. $Plaintiff in error argues that the Act of April 24, 1888, cited in the margin, conferring power upon the Secretary of War to condemn land, right of way and material needed to enable him to carry on work in connection with improvement of rivers and harbors, is exclusive and evidences an intention that the Act of August 1, 1888, shall not apply in that field, and that the acts of 1907, 1909, 1911, and 1912 engraft an exception on the Act of April 24, 1888, to the effect that, as to the Hanson Canal property here sought to be taken, no power to condemn exists, and that it must be acquired, if at all, by contract of purchase at a price not in excess of the sum specified. It is

Page 586

true that the authority granted by the Act of August 1, 1888, to some extent overlaps that granted by the earlier statute (April 24, 1888), but there is no conflict between them. The earlier does not operate to limit the effect of the later act. The act of 1912 specifically authorizes the purchase of the property because deemed necessary for public use. It would have been futile to authorize the purchase of an essential part of a great project, withholding power to condemn, and so leave it within the power of the owner to defeat the program by demanding a price in excess of $65,000 or by refusing to sell at all. The argument is without force.

Another contention of plaintiff in error is that the provision of the Act of July 25, 1912, limiting the authorized purchase price to $65,000, negatives and necessarily excludes authority to condemn. This is not a case where attempt is made by legislation to fix or limit the just compensation to be paid for private property condemned. It is not like Monougahela Navigation Co. v. United States, 148 U. S. 312, 13 Sup. Ct. 622, 37 L. Ed. 463, where Congress sought to exclude the value of the owner's franchise right to exact tolls for service performed, thereby violating the Fifth Amendment. The provision authorizing the Secretary to purchase at a cost not to exceed a specified amount has nothing to do with the judicial ascertainment of just compensation for...

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106 practice notes
  • United States v. 14,770.65 ACRES OF LAND, Civ. A. No. 77-2046.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • August 16, 1985
    ...Joslin Co. v. Providence, 262 U.S. 668, 677 43 S.Ct. 684, 688, 67 L.Ed. 1167; Hanson Lumber Co. v. United States, supra 261 U.S. at 587 43 S.Ct. 442 at 444, 67 L.Ed. If the Government completes the acquisition of title through the condemnation process, the defendants are likewise uninjured ......
  • Olson v. United States, No. 9279-9281.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 17, 1933
    ...71 L. Ed. 1083; Mitchell v. United States, 267 U. S. 341, 344, 345, 45 S. Ct. 293, 69 L. Ed. 644; Hanson Lumber Co. v. United States, 261 U. S. 581, 590, 43 S. Ct. 442, 67 L. Ed. 809; Monongahela Nav. Co. v. United States, 148 U. S. 312, 328-330, 13 S. Ct. 622, 37 L. Ed. 463), but other use......
  • Factor v. CIR, No. 16326.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • July 27, 1960
    ...Freight Lines v. Harry, 9 Cir., 1955, 220 F.2d 272, 277, 15 Alaska 457. In Albert Hanson Lumber Company, Ltd. v. United States, 1923, 261 U.S. 581, 588-589, 43 S.Ct. 442, 445, 67 L. Ed. 809, the ruling of this Court in Montana Tonopah Mining Co. v. Dunlap, supra, on the admissibility, in an......
  • Nika Corp. v. City of Kansas City, Mo., No. 80-0609-CV-W-0.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • February 24, 1984
    ...L.Ed. 206 (1879); United States v. Jones, 109 U.S. 513, 518, 3 S.Ct. 346, 349, 27 L.Ed. 1015 (1883); Hanson Lumber Co. v. United States, 261 U.S. 581, 587, 43 S.Ct. 442, 444, 67 L.Ed. 809 (1923). The clause (as with counterpart provisions in state constitutions) is, instead, simply a limita......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
106 cases
  • United States v. 14,770.65 ACRES OF LAND, Civ. A. No. 77-2046.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • August 16, 1985
    ...Joslin Co. v. Providence, 262 U.S. 668, 677 43 S.Ct. 684, 688, 67 L.Ed. 1167; Hanson Lumber Co. v. United States, supra 261 U.S. at 587 43 S.Ct. 442 at 444, 67 L.Ed. If the Government completes the acquisition of title through the condemnation process, the defendants are likewise uninjured ......
  • Olson v. United States, No. 9279-9281.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 17, 1933
    ...71 L. Ed. 1083; Mitchell v. United States, 267 U. S. 341, 344, 345, 45 S. Ct. 293, 69 L. Ed. 644; Hanson Lumber Co. v. United States, 261 U. S. 581, 590, 43 S. Ct. 442, 67 L. Ed. 809; Monongahela Nav. Co. v. United States, 148 U. S. 312, 328-330, 13 S. Ct. 622, 37 L. Ed. 463), but other use......
  • Factor v. CIR, No. 16326.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • July 27, 1960
    ...Freight Lines v. Harry, 9 Cir., 1955, 220 F.2d 272, 277, 15 Alaska 457. In Albert Hanson Lumber Company, Ltd. v. United States, 1923, 261 U.S. 581, 588-589, 43 S.Ct. 442, 445, 67 L. Ed. 809, the ruling of this Court in Montana Tonopah Mining Co. v. Dunlap, supra, on the admissibility, in an......
  • Nika Corp. v. City of Kansas City, Mo., No. 80-0609-CV-W-0.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • February 24, 1984
    ...L.Ed. 206 (1879); United States v. Jones, 109 U.S. 513, 518, 3 S.Ct. 346, 349, 27 L.Ed. 1015 (1883); Hanson Lumber Co. v. United States, 261 U.S. 581, 587, 43 S.Ct. 442, 444, 67 L.Ed. 809 (1923). The clause (as with counterpart provisions in state constitutions) is, instead, simply a limita......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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