United States v. Causby

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Thomas Lee Causby et al.

DECIDED BY: Stone Court (1946)

ARGUED: May 01, 1946
DECIDED: May 27, 1946

Facts of the case

Thomas Lee Causby owned a chicken farm outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. The farm was located near an airport used regularly by the United States military. According to Causby, noise from the airport regularly frightened the animals on his farm, resulting in the deaths of several chickens. The problem became so severe that Causby was forced to abandon his business. Under an ancient doctrine of the common law, land ownership extended to the space above and below the earth. Using this doctrine as a basis, Causby sued the United States, arguing that he owned the airspace above his farm. By flying planes in this airspace, he argued, the government had confiscated his property without compensation, thus violating the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The United States Court of Claims accepted Causby's argument, and ordered the government to pay compensation.


Did the flying of planes by the United States military over Causby's farm constitute a violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment?