United States Vs. Causby Essay

United States Vs Causby Essay

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In 1934 Lee Causby and his wife Tinie moved to a 2.8 acre plot of land just outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. Knowingly, they purchased the land, which was located only one-third of a mile from a municipal airport and began to raise chickens as a means of income. All was well until the spring of 1942 when the United States Army began to fly four-engine bombers over the property during all hours of the day and night. Due to the constant clamor numerous problems arose on the farmstead and as a result Lee and Tinie filed suit against the United States Army for the taking of property defined under the Fifth Amendment. The Greensboro-Highpoint Municipal Airport was first established in 1928 eight miles from Greensboro, North Carolina. The airport was first commissioned to allow the take off and landing of small commercial flights and crop spraying planes. For approximately a decade and a half the Causby family, their chicken farm and the airport lived in harmony. This harmony was broken in April of 1942 when a lease was negotiated between the airport and the United State Army over the employment of the airport from May until June 1st of 1942. The lease also included provisions for renewal that would have lasted until 1967. It was with this contract in which the Causby s problems first began. According to the original complaint that was filed by the Causbys in the Court of Claims, the planes flown by the Army directly over their land caused the family to lose sleep, become constantly nervous and afraid. On top of this the noise and light created by the large aircraft frightened the chickens so much that they would fly into the sides of the buildings and barns, which would kill them instantly. Approximately six to ten chickens died in one day and a total of 150 chickens died altogether. Eventually production at the chicken farm fell off and the property became devaluated. After the courts examined the situation, the Court of Claims granted an easement of $2,000 for property damage. According to the findings of the Court of Claims, the Causby s home was 2,275 feet from the runway and the barn was only 2,220 feet away. Also due to the fact that the angle in which the planes took off, they flew directly over both the house and the barn. On April 1, 1946 the Supreme Court granted the petition of writ of certiorari to the Court of Claims even though Mr. Justice Jackson took no part in the decision. Only a month later, on May 1st, the case was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States of America by Mr. Walter J. Cummings of Washington D.C. representing the petitioner. For the respondents, the Causbys, Mr. William E. Comer of Greensboro, NC was in attendance. Once again Mr. Justice Jackson did not take part in the trial. Mr. Justice Douglas wrote the opinion of the court and upheld that decision should be reversed and remanded so that the findings of the Court of Claims are in conformity to the decision of the Supreme Court. This was due to the fact that the Army bombers and planes were flying so low, approximately sixty-seven feet above the house and sixty-three feet above
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