U.S. Supreme Court
McCoy v. Union Elevated R. Co., 247 U.S. 354 (1918)
McCoy v. Union Elevated Railroad Company
Argued March 14, 15, 1918
Decided June 3, 1918
247 U.S. 354
The contract clause relates to legislative, not to judicial, action impairing obligation of contracts.
In an action for damages to abutting property due to construction, maintenance, and operation of an elevated railroad in a street of which the fee was in the public, the state court held that recovery depended upon the effect on market value in determining which increase of such value arising from increase of travel should be considered and treated as a special benefit, though enjoyed also by other neighboring property. Held that there was no basis for invoking the equal protection clause, and that the ruling did not deprive of property without due process of law.
Where private property is taken for public purposes, the fundamental right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment is that the owner shall not be deprived of the market value under a rule of law which makes it impossible for him to obtain just compensation. There is no guarantee that the rule adopted by the state shall be the one best supported by reason or authority, or against mere errors in the course of the trial.
It is almost universally held that, in arriving at the amount of damages to property not taken, allowance should be made for peculiar and individual benefits conferred upon it, and it cannot be said that extension of the rule to include increase of market value resulting directly from the public improvement where all property in the neighborhood is similarly benefited deprives of the fundamental right protected by the Amendment.
271 Ill. 490 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary