Alliance v. City of Idaho Falls

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Property Law
  • Date Filed: 12-31-2013
  • Case #: 12-35800
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge N. Smith for the Court; Circuit Judges Schroeder and S. Thomas
  • Full Text Opinion

Idaho state law does not expressly or impliedly grant a municipal corporation power to exercise extraterritorial eminent domain power to acquire easements on residential property outside city boundaries for the non-essential purpose of accomplishing construction of electric transmission lines and provide power at the lowest possible cost.

In 2012, a group of real property owners, "Alliance" for Property Rights and Fiscal Responsibility, sought declaratory and injunctive relief in Idaho State Court against the City of Idaho Falls "City" to prevent its condemnation of easements to construct electric transmission lines outside of City limits and connect existing substations to expand its electrical power supply operation. Alliance argued that the City did not have powers of condemnation pursuant to its purpose of supplying electricity at the lowest possible cost, and any taking would violate the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. City removed the case to federal court, which granted summary judgment in favor of Alliance. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed; holding that under Idaho state law, the City was not granted (1) express general power of extraterritorial eminent domain for any purpose, or power of extraterritorial eminent domain for the specific purpose of distributing and supplying electricity merely because it was granted power to build and supply electricity outside of the City's limits; (2) condemnation power fairly implied or incidental to an express power granted to purchase voluntary easements or acquire them by gift for the declared purpose and objects of supplying energy; and (3) condemnation power essential to the accomplishment of the declared purpose of providing electricity at the lowest possible cost because the record failed to support any conclusion that the construction of the transmission lines would in fact provide energy at the lowest possible cost. Additionally, the panel denied the City's request to certify the question to the Idaho State Supreme Court because the City chose to remove the case to federal court and failed to demonstrate any particularly compelling reasons why it should be allowed a second chance at victory. AFFIRMED.

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