Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp.

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Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp.
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 30, 1982
Decided June 30, 1982
Full case name Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp. et al.
Citations 458 U.S. 419 (more)
Prior history On appeal from the New York Court of Appeals
Holding
When the character of the governmental action is a permanent physical occupation of property, the government actions effects taking to the extent of the occupation, without regard to whether the action achieves an important public benefit or has only minimal economic impact on the owner.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Marshall, joined by Burger, Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens, and O'Connor
Dissent Blackmun, joined by Brennan and White
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. V, XIV

Loretto v. Teleprompter Manhattan CATV Corp., 458 U.S. 419 (1982),[1] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that when the character of the governmental action is a permanent physical occupation of property, the government actions effects regulatory taking to the extent of the occupation, without regard to whether the action achieves an important public benefit or has only minimal economic impact on the owner. In doing so, it established the permanent physical presence test for regulatory takings.

Parties[edit]

Plaintiff/Appellant 
Jean Loretto, owner of five-story apartment building located at 303 West 105th Street, New York City.
Defendant/Appellee 
Teleprompter Corporation and Teleprompter Manhattan CATV, and City of New York (intervenor).

Background[edit]

State of law[edit]

§ 828 of the Executive Law required certain property owners to permit installation and maintenance of certain cable television wires on their property.

Facts of case[edit]

Prior to Loretto's acquisition of property, Manhattan Teleprompter installed cable television wires on Loretto's property pursuant to § 828 of the Executive Law.

Procedural history[edit]

Loretto, on behalf of all property owners so situated, sued Manhattan Teleprompter for trespass and—insofar as Teleprompter relied on § 828—a taking without just compensation, and requested damages and injunctive relief. N.Y. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the statute and rendered summary judgment for Manhattan Teleprompter and co-defendants. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Procedural posture[edit]

Loretto sought reversal of New York Court of Appeals judgment.

Legal analysis[edit]

Issue[edit]

The Court addressed the issue of whether Manhattan Teleprompter's minor but permanent physical occupation of Loretto's property constitutes a physical taking of property for which just compensation is due under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

Arguments/theories[edit]

Appellant 
Manhattan Teleprompter's minor but permanent physical occupation of Loretto's property was a trespass. Since a statute made the trespass permissible, it constituted a "taking" of property for which just compensation was due.
Appellee 
Manhattan Teleprompter's minor but permanent physical occupation of Plaintiff's property did not constitute a "taking" of property for which just compensation was due. The law applied only to rental property, and was simply a regulation on the permissible use of such rental property. The state had also effectively granted tenants the right to enjoy cable television, which is not in itself a taking. Application of a per se rule would have dire consequences for regulation of landlord/tenant relationships.
N.Y. Supreme Court 
Non-crossover installations constitute a taking for which just compensation is due. The law serves legitimate public purpose, and physical presence is not per se a taking, and there is no significant economic impact on expectations of investors.
N.Y. Court of Appeals 
The law serves a legitimate public purpose.

Rule of law[edit]

The Court established the rule of law that when the character of the governmental action is a permanent physical occupation of property, the government actions effects regulatory taking to the extent of the occupation, without regard to whether the action achieves an important public benefit or has only minimal economic impact on the owner.

Holding[edit]

The Court held that the Manhattan Teleprompter's minor but permanent physical occupation of Loretto's property constitutes a regulatory taking of property for which just compensation is due under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

Reasoning[edit]

The Court argued as follows: (1) Precedent. Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City held that there is no set formula for finding a taking. Pumpelly held that a physical presence with the effect of impairing property's usefulness is a taking. Recent cases focus on the importance of physical invasion as a taking. (2) Precedent and policy. The right to exclude is one of the most essential sticks in the bundle of rights that are commonly characterized as property. Insofar as invasion exists, it destroys each of these rights (to possess, to use, and to dispose). (3) Fairness. Owners have an expectation of privacy, without invasion. (4) Clarity. The invasion rule avoids ambiguity as to both law and fact. (5) Contrary to the assertion of the Manhattan Teleprompter and co-defendants, a physical occupation of only rental property does not make this less of a taking. (6) Contrary to the assertion of Manhattan Teleprompter and co-defendants, the statute in question does not purport to give the tenant any additional right. (7) Contrary to the assertion of Manhattan Teleprompter and co-defendants, this ruling will not reverse the Court's otherwise broad discretion rendered to states in regulating landlord/tenant relationships.

Notable concurring and dissenting opinions[edit]

Blackmun, J., with whom Brennan, J., and White, J., join, dissenting. 
The minority opinion argued that there should not be an automatic rule to determine whether there is a taking, and definitely not one that draws the artificial distinction between temporary and permanent physical presence. Instead, there should be a multi-factor balancing test that considers (1) whether the State has interfered in some minimal way with the use of space on her building, and also (2) the extent of the State's interference, and whether it is so severe as to constitute a compensable taking.

Result[edit]

Judgment/disposition[edit]

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the N.Y. Court of Appeals.

Subsequent history[edit]

On remand, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the validity of the statutory provisions empowering the Commission on Cable Television to set compensation for the taking at $1. The Commission concluded that the property value would increase as a result of cable television access, and as such $1 would be sufficient compensation for the permanent intrusion.[2]

Legacy and other notes[edit]

This case established, for the first time[citation needed] (but purported to reestablish) that permanent physical presence constitutes a taking per se.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 458 U.S. 419 Full text of the opinion courtesy of Findlaw.com.
  2. ^ 446 N.E.2d 428 (N.Y. 1983)