Commercial Station Post Office v. United States, No. 8916.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtSTONE and GARDNER, Circuit , and WOODROUGH
PartiesCOMMERCIAL STATION POST OFFICE, Inc., et al. v. UNITED STATES.
Decision Date13 March 1931
Docket NumberNo. 8916.

48 F.2d 183 (1931)

COMMERCIAL STATION POST OFFICE, Inc., et al.
v.
UNITED STATES.

No. 8916.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

March 13, 1931.


Henry C. Carlson, of Minneapolis, Minn. (Fowler, Carlson, Furber & Johnson, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Harry Weiss, of St. Paul, Minn., on the brief), for appellants.

John M. Rees, Sp. Asst. to U. S. Atty., of St. Paul, Minn. (Lewis L. Drill, U. S.

48 F.2d 184
Atty., of St. Paul, Minn., on the brief), for the United States

Before STONE and GARDNER, Circuit Judges, and WOODROUGH, District Judge.

STONE, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from an order according possession to the United States, during a condemnation of the property, of a tract of land and building thereon in St. Paul, Minn.

Appellants are owners and mortgage trustees of a tract of land and building in St. Paul, Minn., which has been leased to and occupied by the United States as a commercial station post office since November 6, 1921. By the Act of March 4, 1929 (45 Stat. 1661), the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to acquire this property with the provision that "not more than $480,000.00" should be paid therefor. Negotiations for purchase failing, condemnation proceedings were instituted in accordance with the statutes of Minnesota. Such statutes provide for the filing of a petition, a finding by the court that the condemnation should take place, the appointment of commissioners to assess the damages, with the right of appeal from the award of the commissioners to the court where there is a jury trial de novo as to amount of damages. The petition here sought condemnation of the property, and also prayed immediate possession. The court adjudicated the condemnation with a denial, "without prejudice," of the prayer for possession, and appointed the commissioners, who filed a damage award of $317,562. An appeal to the trial court was taken by appellants from that award. From the briefs of both parties, it appears that there has been a judgment on verdict entered in that appeal for $334,416, and that there is now pending an appeal to this court from that judgment. After the award by the commissioners was filed, appellee filed a motion for immediate possession, which was contested by appellants. From an order according possession on the motion, this appeal is taken. Appellants present here three matters: Lack of authority for the order; lack of necessity for the order; improvidence of the order.

I. Lack of Authority.

While the argument upon this point is directed to three matters, the gist of all of them is that "the faith of the Government is not pledged to pay compensation for such possession."

It is urged that the condemnation petition expressly reserves the right in the Secretary of the Treasury to abandon the proceedings at any stage, and that the limitation of amount in the act leaves a like discretion in Congress if the ultimate award for the property should exceed the $480,000 fixed by the act as a maximum. It may be conceded that such rights to abandon exist, but neither affects the right to condemn nor the right to do anything which can properly be done in such a condemnation proceeding. Hanson Lumber Co. v. U. S., 261 U. S. 581, 586, 43 S. Ct. 442, 67 L. Ed. 809; U. S. v. Gettysburg Elec. Ry. Co., 160 U. S. 668, 683, 16 S. Ct. 427, 40 L. Ed. 576; Shoemaker v. U. S., 147 U. S. 282, 302, 13 S. Ct. 361, 37 L. Ed. 170.

It is urged that there must be express statutory authority to take possession pending condemnation proceedings, and, without such, the taking of possession is a trespass. Also it is claimed that the statutes do not authorize any officer of the government to take possession or to pay compensation therefor or to pay any amount in the event the ultimate award exceeds $480,000. These contentions present really two matters which are whether any officer of the government is empowered to take possession for the government and whether provision has been made to pay for the possession.

The Act of May 25, 1926 (44 Stat. 630, § 1 40 USCA § 341) expressly authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to acquire by "purchase, condemnation, or otherwise" sites for "post offices." The Act of March 4, 1929 (45 Stat. 1661) was an amendment to the 1926 act, and specifically authorizes the Secretary to acquire this particular property. There could not be more direct and unequivocal conferring of authority upon the Secretary to acquire this property by condemnation. Being empowered to acquire, for the government, the entire right, title, and interest to this property, he is, of course, authorized to take over, for the government, the possession thereof without limitation as to when possession might be taken. Where, as here, the condemnation contemplates acquiring the entire title, the matter of possession is merely incidental to the main purpose, and is included therein. We have no doubt that the Secretary is amply designated as the official to conduct this condemnation proceeding and, as part thereof, to take possession of the property whenever he may properly do so.

Whether he could properly do so at the time he did depends upon the determination of the other matter argued; namely, whether adequate provision has been made to pay for such possession. It is settled that

48 F.2d 185
the government may take possession in advance of passing of title or of abandonment of the condemnation proceeding (Hanson Lumber Co. v. U. S., 261 U. S. 581, 587, 43 S. Ct. 442, 67 L. Ed. 809), and that, while payment must be made for the use of the property during such advance possession (Seaboard Air Line Ry. v. U. S., 261 U. S. 299, 305, 43 S. Ct. 354, 67 L. Ed. 664; U. S. v. Rogers, 255 U. S. 163, 169, 41 S....

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34 practice notes
  • United States v. 15.3 ACRES OF LAND, ETC., Civ. A. No. 5051.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • August 15, 1957
    ...assume the suggestion to be one of improvidence, not illegality. Cf. Commercial Station Post Office, Inc., v. United States, 8 Cir., 1931, 48 F.2d 183, at page 186; Girard Trust Co. v. United States, supra, 149 F.2d at page 874. Absent fraud the terms of the instrument must prevail. Moiger ......
  • 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
    ...v. United States, supra 308 U.S. 271 at 285 60 S.Ct. 231, 236, 84 L.Ed. 240 (1939); Commercial Station Post Office v. United States, supra 48 F.2d 183 at 185-86 (8th Cir.1931) and cases cited Rule 71A(i)(3), F.R.Civ.P., provides that: At any time before compensation for a piece of property ......
  • East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. v. Sage, No. 03-1708.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • March 22, 2004
    ...immediate possession under a statute similar to the NGA). Cf. Commercial Station Post Office, Inc. v. United States, 48 F.2d 183, 184-85 (8th Cir.1931)(holding that government officer who exercises statutory authority to file condemnation action may take immediate possession of the property......
  • United States v. Meyer, No. 7148
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 23, 1940
    ...deposited prior to taking. Appropriation by Congress furnishes adequate security. Commercial Station Post Office v. United States, 8 Cir., 48 F. 2d 183. Where Congress has authorized an appropriation for a sum of money, that appropriation is back of the obligation to pay for whatever is tak......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • United States v. 15.3 ACRES OF LAND, ETC., Civ. A. No. 5051.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • August 15, 1957
    ...assume the suggestion to be one of improvidence, not illegality. Cf. Commercial Station Post Office, Inc., v. United States, 8 Cir., 1931, 48 F.2d 183, at page 186; Girard Trust Co. v. United States, supra, 149 F.2d at page 874. Absent fraud the terms of the instrument must prevail. Moiger ......
  • 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
    ...v. United States, supra 308 U.S. 271 at 285 60 S.Ct. 231, 236, 84 L.Ed. 240 (1939); Commercial Station Post Office v. United States, supra 48 F.2d 183 at 185-86 (8th Cir.1931) and cases cited Rule 71A(i)(3), F.R.Civ.P., provides that: At any time before compensation for a piece of property ......
  • East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. v. Sage, No. 03-1708.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • March 22, 2004
    ...immediate possession under a statute similar to the NGA). Cf. Commercial Station Post Office, Inc. v. United States, 48 F.2d 183, 184-85 (8th Cir.1931)(holding that government officer who exercises statutory authority to file condemnation action may take immediate possession of the property......
  • United States v. Meyer, No. 7148
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 23, 1940
    ...deposited prior to taking. Appropriation by Congress furnishes adequate security. Commercial Station Post Office v. United States, 8 Cir., 48 F. 2d 183. Where Congress has authorized an appropriation for a sum of money, that appropriation is back of the obligation to pay for whatever is tak......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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