DETROIT, MI — The Detroit News published a story recently regarding a Michigan Court of Appeals decision in favor of a private landowner. The appellate decision upheld in part a lower court ruling that the Detroit International Bridge Company did not have the right to condemn private property for access improvements. The three-judge panel ruled that MDOT did not intend to transfer its power of eminent domain to the private company via its agreement with the bridge company. Both courts ruled that only the government may utilize condemnation.
The court reversed in part the earlier decision and employed the Absurd Results Rule to tax Detroit International Bridge Co. with the landowner’s legal costs. The court ruled that to make the landowner responsible for the costs incurred for the decadelong legal fight “would be patently absurd and unthinkable,” applying the Absurd Results Rule to avoid a legal result that would have been “manifestly inconsistent with legislative intent.”
As mentioned by Alan Ackerman in his National Eminent Domain Blog, “the power to take property requires a specific legislative authorization empowering the entity with condemnation authority. Here is a situation in which the court found that there was no statutory language allowing the private Detroit International Bridge Company to acquire by an eminent domain case.”