United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. GIBNEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Coast Pipeline, LLC ("Atlantic"), seeks to exercise
its eminent domain powers pursuant to Section 7(h) of the
Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. § 7l7f(h). Between January
18, 2018 and February 23, 2018, Atlantic filed its Complaints
in Condemnation to acquire certain easements for the three
underlying cases. Atlantic subsequently served the defendants
named in the three underlying cases personally or through
publication. On August 16, 2018, the Clerk entered default
against all the defendants who have failed to respond in
these underlying cases ("Non-Responding
Defendants"). Atlantic filed its Motion for Default
Judgment against the Non-Responding Defendants on August 20,
natural gas company in possession of a certificate of public
convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission, Atlantic may condemn the property interests at
issue in this litigation and is thus entitled to have default
judgment granted in its favor against the Non-Responding
Defendants. On September 20, 2018, the Court held a bench
trial to determine the just compensation owed to the
Non-Responding Defendants for the property condemned.
the bench trial, the Court finds the following facts:
Atlantic Is a Natural Gas Company in Possession of a
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Issued by the
is an interstate natural gas company as defined by Section
2(a) of the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. § 717 et
seq. Atlantic is subject to the jurisdiction of the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") and
is authorized to construct, own, operate, and maintain
pipelines for the transmission of natural gas in interstate
commerce. See 15 U.S.C. § 717. See Dk.
No. 125-1, Memo, in Supp. of Atlantic's Mot. for Default
J., Ex. 1, Decl. of Jedidiah Spratt ("Spratt
Decl.") ¶ 7.
is in the process of constructing an approximately 600-mile
underground pipeline and related facilities for the purpose
of transporting natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia
and North Carolina (the "ACP Project").
See Spratt Decl. ¶ 5.
Project will measure approximately 42 inches in diameter in
West Virginia and Virginia, and 36 inches in diameter in
North Carolina. Certain extensions of the ACP Project will
measure 20 inches in diameter from Northampton County, North
Carolina to the City of Chesapeake, Virginia and 16 inches in
diameter in Brunswick County, Virginia and Greensville
County, Virginia. See Spratt Decl. ¶ 8. Natural
gas transported by the ACP Project will serve multiple public
utilities. See Spratt Decl. ¶ 9.
filed an application for a certificate of public convenience
and necessity with FERC on September 18, 2015, FERC Docket
No. CP15-554-000, in which it sought permission to construct
the ACP Project and attendant facilities. On October 13,
2017, FERC issued a certificate of public convenience and
necessity (the "FERC Certificate") authorizing
Atlantic to construct and operate the ACP Project. (Comp. Ex.
2). See Spratt Decl. ¶ 10; see also
Spratt Decl., Ex. A, the October 13, 2017 Certificate of
Public Convenience and Necessity Issued by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission to Atlantic.
Atlantic Seeks to Condemn Certain Property Rights from the
the Non-Responding Defendants for each underlying matter owns
a property interest in the certain tracks of land sought to
be condemned by Atlantic. See Compl. ¶ 16, Dk.
No. 1 (2:18-cv-00106-JAG); Compl. ¶ 17, Dk. No. 1
(3:18-cv-00041); Compl. ¶ 16, Dk. No. 1 (3:18-cv-00067).
Atlantic filed its Complaints in Condemnation to acquire
certain easements from the Non-Responding Defendants for the
three underlying matters. See Compl. ¶ 2, Dk.
No. 1 (2:18-cv-00106-JAG); Compl. ¶ 2, Dk. No. 1
(3:18-cv-00041); Compl. ¶ 2, Dk. No. 1 (3:18-cv-00067).
Atlantic seeks to construct a portion of the ACP Project on
the Properties described in detail below. The ACP Project
cannot be constructed until Atlantic acquires certain
permanent easements (the "Permanent Easements") and
temporary easements (the "Temporary Easements")
(collectively the "Easements") on the Properties.
The Easements are necessary for constructing, maintaining,
operating, altering, testing, replacing, and repairing the
ACP Project. SeeDk.No. l, ¶ 16(2:18-cv-00106-JAG);Dk.No.
l, ¶ 17 (3:18-cv-00041); Dk.No. l, ¶ 16
Permanent Easements to be taken on each Property include a
permanent and exclusive easement and right-of-way to
construct, operate, maintain, replace, repair, remove or
abandon the ACP Project and appurtenant equipment and
facilities, as well as the right to change the location of
the installed pipeline within the area of the Permanent
Easement as may be necessary or advisable. See
Compl. ¶ 18, Dk. No. 1 (2:18-cv-00106-JAG); Compl.
¶ 19, Dk. No. 1 (3:18-cv-00041); Compl. ¶ 18, Dk.
No. 1 (3:18-cv-00067).
Temporary Easements will enable Atlantic to construct the ACP
Project and engage in restoration or clean-up activities. The
Temporary Easements are requested as of the date of
authorized entry onto the Property and their use is required
until all work, including restoration, is complete. The
Temporary Easements will be effective and condemned for a
period not to exceed five (5) years following Atlantic's
possession of the Easements. See Compl. ¶ 19,
Dk. No. 1, (2:18-cv-00106-JAG); Compl. ¶ 20, Dk. No. 1
(3:18-cv-00041); Compl. ¶ 19, Dk. No. 1 (3:18-cv-00067).
Underlying Case Number 2:18-cv-00106-JAG
defendants the Unknown Heirs of Asberry Melton and the
Unknown Heirs of David H. Melton own real property located in
City of Chesapeake, Virginia, in the Deep Creek Borough, as
is more particularly described as Parcel Identification No.
0340000001800, as is more particularly described as on that
certain Plat filed in Map Book 143, Page 97 among the land
records of the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, and comprised of
5.159 acres, more or less (the "Melton Property").
See Compl. ¶ 5, Dk. No. 1 (2:18-cv-00106-JAG).
attempted to negotiate to acquire Easements over the Melton
Property for the purpose of the construction of an interstate
natural gas pipeline. See Spratt Decl. ¶¶
12-14. There are two landowners who have already settled with
Atlantic for the Melton Property. The remaining, active
defendants in this case are unknown heirs who collectively
have a 28.58% ownership interest in the Melton Property.
Atlantic, despite negotiation efforts, has been unable to
acquire by contract, or has been unable to agree with the
remaining defendants as to the compensation to be paid for,
the necessary easements to construct, operate, and maintain a
pipeline for the transportation of natural gas.
area and dimensions of the Easements Atlantic seeks to
condemn on the Melton Property are depicted in Exhibit 4 to
the Complaint in Condemnation. See Compl., Ex. 4,
Dk. No. 1-4 (2:18-cv-00106-JAG); see also
Atlantic's Trial Exhibit No. 3.
Underlying Case Number 3:18-cv-00041-JAG
defendants Glinda D. Ford, Naomi R. Waddy, Willie R. Foster,
Casey L. Foster, Lawanda D. Pryor, Latisha S. Gordon, Shanna
N. Gordon, Larry D. Vaughan, Francis L. Vaughan, Harold
Edward Foster, Jr., J.F., and the Unknown Heirs of Willie
Raymond Foster may own real property located in Nottoway
County, Virginia, as is more particularly described as Parcel
Identification No. 20-7, as is more particularly described in
Deed Book 259, Page 591 of the ...