Alamo Land & Cattle Company, Inc. v. Arizona

PETITIONER: Alamo Land & Cattle Company, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Arizona
LOCATION: United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare: Social Security Division

DOCKET NO.: 74-125
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 424 US 295 (1976)
ARGUED: Oct 14, 1975 / Oct 15, 1975
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1976

ADVOCATES:
J. Gordon Cook - for petitioner
Peter C. Gulatto -

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Alamo Land & Cattle Company, Inc. v. Arizona

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 15, 1975 (Part 2) in Alamo Land & Cattle Company, Inc. v. Arizona
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 14, 1975 (Part 1) in Alamo Land & Cattle Company, Inc. v. Arizona

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 24, 1976 in Alamo Land & Cattle Company, Inc. v. Arizona

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 74-125, Alamo Land & Cattle Company against Arizona, will be announced by Mr. Justice Blackmun.

Harry A. Blackmun:

This case comes to us from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

It concerns lands that were held by the State of Arizona in trust for common school purposes, pursuant to the provisions of the New Mexico-Arizona Enabling Act of 1910 and what prompted the lawsuit was the United States' condemnation of some of the state trust lands in connection with the flood control of the dam and reservoir.

At the time of the condemnation, the lands were under lease from the State to private parties, and the issue is as to allocation of the condemnation proceeds.

The District Court awarded the Arizona a certain portion of the proceeds for its interest in fee, and then awarded the lessee another portion for the improvements on the land and the remainder for its leasehold interest.

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit approved the allocation for the improvements, but it held that under the Enabling Act, the State, as trustee, had no power whatsoever to grant a compensable leasehold interest, and therefore, that the lessee at the condemnation took nothing beyond the value of the improvements.

In other words, all the rest went to the State, as trustee.

We find ourselves in disagreement with the Court of Appeals and the judgment accordingly is reversed and the case is remanded.

Usually, the Fifth Amendment protects the outstanding leasehold interest and makes the holder of that interest entitled to just compensation when it is taken upon condemnation.

We note, however, that it maybe that under state law the lessee could not posses a compensable leasehold interest upon federal condemnation.

There are other questions in the case as to value and as to the basic validity of the interest, and all of these questions remain open on remand.

I am authorized to say that Mr. Justice White has filed a dissenting in which Mr. Brennan has joined, and Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.