Whitehead v. Allied Signal, Inc.
Citation: 29 ELR 20422
No. 98-6305, 166 F.3d 350/(10th Cir., 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compliance with court orders because of the threat of tort liability should such orders later be vacated or withdrawn.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.
Counsel for Plaintiff
Charles W. Gaunce
Law Offices of Charles W. Gaunce
222 E. Main St., Norman OK 73069
Counsel for Defendants
Robert L. Roark
McKinney & Stringer
101 N. Broadway, 8th Fl., Oklahoma City OK 73102
Before Brorby and Ebel, JJ.