The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently ruled in favor of Missouri landowners – reversing the trial court’s erroneous decision – in a case where True North Law filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of a distinguished property law scholar and professor.

In Behrens, et al. v. United States, Missouri landowners who own property taken by the federal government for a public recreational rail-trail filed claims against the government for the “just compensation” they are guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment.  The trial court erroneously ruled that the landowners were not entitled to compensation because the easement the railroad gained across these owners’ land in the early 1900s was broad enough to encompass not only railroad use, but public recreation.

The court of appeals explained that the trial judge wrongly interpreted Missouri law, holding, “in Missouri, trail use with the purported but speculative purpose of preserving the right-of-way for future railroad use does not fall within the scope of an easement granted for railroad purposes.”

True North filed its amicus brief on behalf of Professor James W. Ely, Jr., a renowned property law expert and legal historian and co-author of the leading property law text, The Law of Easements & Licenses in Land, which has been quoted and followed by the U.S. Supreme Court and many other courts across the country.

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