Schroeder v. City of New York

RESPONDENT: City of New York
LOCATION: Beaumont Mills

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 371 US 208 (1962)
ARGUED: Nov 15, 1962
DECIDED: Dec 17, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Schroeder v. City of New York

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 15, 1962 in Schroeder v. City of New York

Earl Warren:

Number 75, Madeline C.Schroeder, versus City of New York.

Mr. Scheinman.

Louis B. Scheinman:

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices of this Court.

This is an appeal from an order on a divided decision of the New York Court of Appeals which held constitutional a statute in a condemnation proceeding and which statute was attacked in this case on the grounds that the notice provided therein was inadequate in order to comply with due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

For the reasons that the time that we have here today is short, I would like to forego speaking of the procedural aspects of this case and exactly how this case came to this Court except merely to point out that this was an action for an injunction brought by the plaintiff who was a riparian owner owning a home on the Neversink River.

That the City of New York had acquired the right to divert that river in a condemnation proceeding brought in 1952 and that this claimant or rather this plaintiff here had no knowledge or notice of this proceeding whatsoever and brought this action for an injunction in 1959 after learning of the acquisition of her property or portion of her property by the city.

The motion made here by the City of New York was for judgment on the pleadings and consequently all of the allegations of the complaint under New York law since this is a motion similar to the common law demurrer should be deemed true.

There was a cross motion made by the plaintiff, the appellant here to dismiss the city's answer to the complaint.

The Court of Appeals as I've said by a four-to-two decision held that the notice requirements of this statute were adequate.

Now, the notice provided in this condemnation statute was notice that had no personal service or any effort at personal service provided in it.

The statute required in addition to publication in the city record which is the official publication of the City of New York and not a newspaper commonly read.

It also provided for notice in two newspapers published in New York City.

These properties are of course considerable distances outside of the territorial limits of New York City and this notice relating to city newspapers, is primarily for the information of city officials and New York City inhabitants.

In any event, the appellee here has never claimed that the notice in the New York City newspapers was even designed to calculate in any way to give any notice to the local property owners, many of whom are more than a hundred miles away from New York City.

What's the purpose of that city notice?

Louis B. Scheinman:

The only purpose that I can think of is to give notice to city officials, members of the Board of Investment and Board Water Supply and that -- their employees, the employees of the Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity and so on --

Instead of writing them letters?

Louis B. Scheinman:

Of the Water Supply project.

I don't know of any other purpose that it can serve Your Honor.

In any event --

That's not claimed here to be significant as far as your problem is concerned.

Louis B. Scheinman:

No, it does not.

And the city does not even claim it to be any form of notice that is significant insofar as property owners are concerned.

The remaining notice is that the notice of motion which the city is required to make in order to acquire this title be published in two newspapers located in the county in which the property is located.

And the briefs here have shown how the city has deliberately used the lack of definiteness in the statute.

The lack of any requirement that these newspapers be those published or having circulation in the area of the taking.

But a -- just a general requirement that it'd be two newspapers in the county and I think the briefs have shown how the city has bypassed those newspapers which were like -- would possibly be likely to give notice in the area of the taking and has gone too far into the county to find small newspapers of limited circulation which could not possibly be expected or calculated to have any circulation whatever in the area of the taking in which to technically comply with this inadequate statute.

There is one other requirement for notice and that is that handbills be posted in 20 conspicuous places in the area of the taking.

There are 20 places in the vicinity of the taking.

I think that is the way the statute reads.