National Inv. Co. v. Harrison

Decision Date11 March 1947
Docket Number46985.
Citation26 N.W.2d 338,238 Iowa 197
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Lappen & Carlson, of Des Moines, for appellant.

Herrick Sloan & Langdon, of Des Moines, for appellees.


The Plaza Hotel and the Chamberlain Hotel, both in the city of Des Moines, were included in the same condemnation action by the United States Government. In Boss v. Polk County, Iowa, 19 N.W.2d 225, 226, we had before us the question of whether the Chamberlain Hotel, taken by the United States Government for use during the war emergency of World War II, was exempt from taxation during the period it was used by the federal government. We held it was not. Now the owner of the Plaza Hotel seeks an exemption from taxation for the period the Plaza Hotel was used by the federal government--during which period it was used to house members of the Women's Army Corps, one of the branches of the military services of the United States. The Des Moines Board of Review and the Polk District Court sustained the assessment. Upon this appeal the Plaza Hotel owner argues the property should be exempt from taxes for 1943 and 1944, the period of the federal government's occupancy, because: (1) ownership and title vested in the United States at the moment of seizure under eminent domain, (2) the realty was immune from taxation while held by the United States, and (3) the realty was exempt from taxation as realty used for an armory and military purposes under section 29.50, Code 1946.

I. The answer to the first proposition is that, under the condemnation, title did not vest in the United States at the time of seizure. The condemnation proceedings, as shown by the files in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Iowa, Central Division, were under 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 632, providing that: 'The Secretary of War * * * may cause proceedings to be instituted in any court having jurisdiction of such proceedings, to acquire by condemnation, any real property, temporary use thereof, or other interest therein * * *.' (Italics supplied.) The files show that it was the temporary use of the property that the federal government sought to obtain and the decree was in favor of the government for 'the full right and interest to the temporary use for a term of years ending June 30, 1945 * * * said term to be cancellable at the election of the United States of America on June 30, 1943 or June 30, 1944 * * * by 60 days notice * * *.' The files disclose that the parties were unable to agree on the amount of compensation for the temporary use but the petitioner deposited $23,235 for the use of the building from August 15, 1942 to June 30 1943, and $26,500 for the period from July 1, 1943 to June 30, 1944. All but $500 of the first deposit and all but $2,000 of the second deposit was turned over to the hotel owner. On February 14, 1944, the Federal District Court awarded the hotel owner an additional final sum of $13,750 plus the $2,500 remaining on deposit in court and the hotel owner receipted for this final payment as being 'in full complete, and final satisfaction and payment of just compensation for the taking of the use of the Plaza Hotel.' The United States surrendered possession of the hotel to the owner on February 14, 1944.

The only difference between this case and the Boss case is that in the latter case the parties were able to agree on the amount of compensation to be paid and it became the subject of a stipulation, and a judgment confirming same, while here the owner did not agree, but did accept the awards of portions of deposits and the final award as compensation for the 'taking of the use' of the hotel.

The proceedings clearly...

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