The Fuller Court (1888–1910)


What was the railway company’s underlying claim in the case and what “just compensation” did it receive?

The city of Chicago decided to widen Rockwell Street, which forced the city to condemn certain parcels of land, including some owned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company. The city filed a petition for the condemnation of the land and asked for a determination of the just compensation to be paid to the railroad company for its loss of a right of way. A jury determined that the railroad company should be paid a total of $1 for the loss of its right of way (railroad track). Incidentally, Justice David Brewer wrote that the railroad company’s receipt of $1 dollar amounted to nominal, rather than just, compensation. “The abundant promises of the forepart of the opinion vanish into nothing when the conclusion is reached,” Brewer wrote.


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