Anderson v. Chesapeake Ferry Co.

Supreme Court of Virginia
186 Va. 481, 43 S.E.2d 10

Chesapeake’s ferry operation was taken over by Highway Commissioner under an act of the General Assembly.  Chesapeake had suspended operations due to an employee strike and this had resulted in inconvenience and hardship to the public. The Highway Commissioner was authorized to use power of eminent domain and acquire ferries for temporary use. Pursuant to Commissioner’s petition, trial court entered order giving Commissioner the operation of the ferries with the condition that both sides agree on reasonable and lawful compensation for their use. If unable to agree, either party might file a petition to have compensation judicially determined. After eight months, Chesapeake filed petition stating that no agreement had been reached and the trial court would have to set compensation. After hearing, trial court ruled Chesapeake was entitled to net profits as reasonable compensation. Supreme Court reversed and remanded. If the taking had been permanent, the just compensation would be the fair market value of all that was taken. Just compensation for a temporary taking can only be the fair rental value. Otherwise, if the Commissioner had operated the ferries at a loss, that would result in Chesapeake getting nothing for the temporary taking of its property for public use. However, profits can be used as evidence in the calculation of fair rental value.

Dissent by Justice Spratley stating that Chesapeake was entitled to the net profit of the ferry operation, as that would have been its situation if it had continued running the ferries instead of the State.

Summary prepared by Judge Jonathan Apgar, 23rd Judicial Circuit in Virginia, for the William & Mary Property Rights Project, Marshall-Wythe School of Law, William & Mary ©2019.

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