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National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Two Parcels of Land One 1691 Sq. Foot More or Less Parcel of Land

decided: June 30, 1987.

NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, A DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
TWO PARCELS OF LAND: ONE 1691 SQ. FOOT MORE OR LESS PARCEL OF LAND IN THE TOWN OF NEW LONDON, COUNTY OF NEW LONDON AND STATE OF CONNECTICUT; AND ONE 2548 SQ. FOOT MORE OR LESS PARCEL IN THE TOWN OF NEW LONDON, STATE OF CONNECTICUT; ELIOT HAGAR, DEFENDANTS, ELIOT HAGAR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Motley, Chief Judge, sitting by designation) granting National Railroad Passenger Corporation's cross-motion for summary judgment in its action to condemn defendant's property and denying Hagar's motion for summary judgment, and from an order of the same court (Clarie, Judge) denying defendant's motion for a new trial. Affirmed.

Author: Mahoney

Before: OAKES, MESKILL and MAHONEY, Circuit Judges.

MAHONEY, Circuit Judge:

In this condemnation action, Eliot Hagar, a New London landowner, appeals from (1) an order of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Constance Baker Motley, Chief Judge, sitting by designation) denying Hagar's motion for summary judgment and granting plaintiff National Railroad Passenger Corporation's cross-motion for summary judgment on the issue whether plaintiff was authorized to condemn Hagar's property; and (2) an order of the same court (T. Emmet Clarie, Judge) denying Hagar's motion for a new trial premises upon the grounds that (a) the court erred in refusing to apply state law in resolving the question of just compensation, and (b) the jury returned a quotient verdict.

We affirm.

BACKGROUND

At all relevant times, defendant Hagar was the owner of two parcels of realty located in the City of New London, Connecticut. Both are separated from the nearby Thames River by the railroad tracks of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation ("Amtrak"). The parcels are improved by buildings.

On March 18, 1982, Amtrak filed a declaration of taking and complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut seeking to condemn portions of Hagar's properties as part of a plan aimed at "realignment and construction of track and construction of a new movable-span bridge over the Shaws Cove outlet in New London." Brief of Amtrak at 1. Hagar's properties were but two of several sought by Amtrak.

In the course of discovery, Hagar was permitted to examine an agreement dated July 1, 1982 among the Federal Railroad Administration ("FRA") the City of New London and Amtrak (the "Agreement"). The Agreement set forth the rights and responsibilities of the parties respecting a "joint hurricane protection barrier/railroad embankment project." Section 202 of the Agreement required Amtrak to "take all actions necessary, in cooperation with FRA, whether by negotiated purchase or by condemnation, to acquire the property interests that are required for the Joint and Bridge Projects." Section 301 of the Agreement required Amtrak, within specified time constraints, to "convey to the City [of New London], by quitclaim deed, all of Amtrak's right, title and interest in (1) certain portions of the parcels acquired under section 202 . . . ." Section 501 provided that "the City intends to construct [a] Service Road following conveyance to the City of all properties to be conveyed to the City for the Service Road under Article III [including section 301] . . . ."

Amtrak reserved certain rights in the conveyances. For example, under section 604 of the Agreement, New London granted Amtrak a permanent easement

to all lands to be conveyed to the City under this Agreement, and also to all lands now held or hereafter acquired by the City between Shaw's Cove and Captain's Walk and extending fifty feet in either direction from the property boundaries of the relocated railroad right-of-way, for the following purposes:

(a) inspection, maintenance and repair of adjacent railroad facilities;

(b) inspection, maintenance and repair of the hurricane protection barrier as it may affect railroad ...


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