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Whitehead v. Allied Signal, Inc.

Citation: 29 ELR 20422
(12/16/1998)

The court holds that a property owner cannot maintain an action for forcible ejectment against a company that was ordered to acquire the property owner's land as part of a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act remedial plan. The company, which obtained all of the land subject to the remedial plan except for the property owner's land, successfully moved to have the property owner's land condemned. After the order condemning the property owner's land was vacated, the property owner brought forcible ejectment and abuse of process claims against the company. The court first holds that the property owner cannot maintain a complaint for forcible ejectment. The power of the court, rather than the power of the company, was the force involved. Moreover, the company cannot be held liable for acquiescing to the court's authority as required by law. It is a general rule of tort law that court orders validate actions that would otherwise constitute intentional property torts. Further, parties should not be forced to second-guess compliance with court orders because of the threat of tort liability should such orders later be vacated or withdrawn. The court then declines to review the property owner's takings claim. The claim was raised for the first time on appeal. The court also holds that the property owner's allegations do not demonstrate the company's improper use of the court's process.

[Decisions related to this litigation are published at 13 ELR 20188, 17 ELR 20242, 20738, 21082, and 20741, 19 ELR 20254, 20 ELR 21307, 21 ELR 20706, 20714, and 20721, and 23 ELR 20624 and 20630.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Charles W. Gaunce
Law Offices of Charles W. Gaunce
222 E. Main St., Norman OK 73069
(405) 447-4144

Counsel for Defendants
Robert L. Roark
McKinney & Stringer
BancFirst
101 N. Broadway, 8th Fl., Oklahoma City OK 73102
(405) 239-6444

Before Brorby and Ebel, JJ.