Just Compensation

Reference Number: MTAS-1295
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: October 19, 2018
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The constitution requires that private property not be taken for public use without payment of just compensation to the property owner [1] by the payment of the fair cash value [2] or the fair market value of the property on the date of the taking for public use. [3] The “fair market value“ of the land is the price that a reasonable buyer would give if he or she were willing to but did not have to purchase and that a willing seller would take if he or she were willing to but did not have to sell the property in question. [4] The amount of just compensation to which the property owner is entitled is a question for the jury or court acting as the trier of the facts, [5] and the parties have the right to a trial by jury. [6] After the condemner’s right to take has been established, the burden of proof shifts to the property owner to show the amount of just compensation to which he or she is entitled for the taking. [7]

[1] Tennessee Constitution, Article 1, Section 21.

[2] Southern Railway Co. v. City of Memphis, 126 Tenn. 267, 148 S.W. 662 (1912); Paducah and Memphis Railroad Co. v. Stovall, 59 Tenn. 1 (1873); City of Memphis v. Bolton, 56 Tenn. 508 (1872); Woodfolk v. Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad Co., 32 Tenn. 422 (1852).

[3] Sevier County v. Waters, 126 S.W. 3d 913 (Tenn. App. 2003); Nashville Housing Authority v. Cohen, 541 S.W.2d 947 (Tenn. 1976); Alloway v. City of Nashville, 88 Tenn. 510, 13 S.W. 123 (1890).

[4] State ex rel. Shaw v. Gorman, 596 S.W.2d 796 (Tenn. 1980); Nashville Housing Authority v. Cohen, supra; Davidson County Board of Education v. First American National Bank, 202 Tenn. 9, 301 S.W.2d 905 (1957); Lewisburg & Northern Railroad Co. v. Hinds, 134 Tenn. 293, 183 S.W. 985 (1915); Southern Railway Co.v. City of Memphis, supra; Alloway v. City of Nashville, supra; Shelby County v. Mid-South Title Co., 615 S.W.2d 677 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980); Memphis Housing Authority v. Mid-South Title Co., 59 Tenn. App. 654, 443 S.W.2d 492 (1968); Brookside Mills, Inc. v. Moulton, 55 Tenn. App. 643, 404 S.W.2d 258 (1965).

[5] Strasser v. City of Nashville, 207 Tenn. 24, 336 S.W.2d 16 (1960); Davidson County Board of Education v. First American National Bank, supra; State ex rel. Pack v. Hill, 56 Tenn. App. 410, 408 S.W.2d 213 (1965).

[6] City of Lafayette v. Hammock, 1999 WL 346217 (Tenn. App. 1999); Shook & Fletcher Supply Co. v. City of Nashville, 47 Tenn. App. 339, 338 S.W.2d 237 (1960).

[7] Catlett v. State, 207 Tenn. 1, 336 S.W.2d 8 (1960); Town of Erin v. Brooks, 190 Tenn. 407, 230 S.W.2d 397 (1950); Lebanon and Nashville Turnpike Co. v. Creveling, 159 Tenn. 147, 17 S.W.2d 22 (1929); Memphis Housing Authority v. Ryan, 54 Tenn. App. 557, 393 S.W.2d 3 (1964); Morgan County v. Jones, 12 Tenn. App. 197 (1930); City of Lebanon v. Merryman, Docket No. 01-A-01-9005-CV-00157 (Tenn. Ct. App. M.S. November 16, 1990). See also T.C.A. § 29-16-118 on the right to open and close the argument before the court and jury.


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