|Opinion:||Snow v. Town of Calumet, 2022 OK 63|
|Subject matter:||Inverse Condemnation|
|Date Decided:||June 21, 2022|
|Trial Court:||District Court of Canadian County; Judge Hesse|
|Route to this Court:||Appeal from Order Granting Summary Judgment; Retained|
|Facts:||In June 2010, the Snows purchased real property located in the Town of Calumet. The former owners of the real property had granted temporary easements to the Town in 1978 to install and maintain two municipal sewer lines located on the Snows’ property. The temporary easements expired in December 2010.In May 2018, Town requested that the Snows execute perpetual easements for Town’s continued use and maintenance of the sewer lines. The Snows sought compensation from Town for the easements, but Town declined to compensate the Snows. The Snows filed this action against Town for trespass and inverse condemnation. Town filed a counterclaim seeking to quiet title to the easements by prescription. |
Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. The district court granted in part the Snows’ motion for summary judgment on Town’s quiet title claim, holding the municipal sewer lines were permissive until the temporary easements expired in 2010 and Town had not satisfied the statutory period of fifteen years for prescriptive easements. The district court also granted Town’s motion for summary judgment on the Snows’ claims for trespass and inverse condemnation. The district court held that Town was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the Snows’ trespass claim because the former owners of the property consented to Town entering the property and installing the sewer lines. As to the Snows’ inverse condemnation claim, the district court held that the Snows lacked standing to assert an inverse condemnation claim because the right to this claim belonged to the former owners of the property when Town installed the sewer lines in 1978.
|Standard of Review:||Summary judgment resolves issues of law, and we review a district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo.|
|Analysis:||The general rule is that the right of inverse condemnation belongs to the owner at the time of the taking. Cox Enters., Ltd. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 1976 OK 75, ¶ 9, 550 P.2d 1324, 1326. The two exceptions that the Court has recognized are when (1) the current property owner had no knowledge that the taking occurred, and (2) the former property owner did not consent to the taking and transferred the right to recover just compensation for the taking to the current property owner. |
The Snows have standing to assert an inverse condemnation claim. Town’s right to utilize the land ended when the temporary easements expired in 2010. Town sought perpetual easements from the Snows for the continual use and maintenance of the sewer lines. The Snows requested just compensation for the Town to continue to utilize the land, but Town refused to compensate the Snows. Accordingly, the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Town, holding that the Snows did not have standing to assert an inverse condemnation claim.
|Outcome:||Reversed and remanded for trial on inverse condemnation claim.|
|Vote:||All Justices Concur; Winchester, J. (author).|
|Other:||This case was retained sua sponte by the Court.|