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Henry Ford & Son, Inc. v. Little Falls Fibre Co., 280 U.S. 369 (1930)

Henry Ford & Son, Inc. v. Little Falls Fibre Co.

No. 47

Argued December 4, 1929

Decide January 6, 1930

280 U.S. 369


A private business corporation, licensed by the federal Power Commission to use, for development of electric power, the surplus water from a dam in the Hudson River, constructed under acts of Congress,

Page 280 U. S. 370

placed flashboards on the crest of the dam, as the license permitted but did not require it to do, and thus raised the level of the water pool to such an extent as to diminish the head and impair the value of a dam and water power belonging to riparian proprietors above on the Mohawk River, a navigable tributary of the Hudson. The parties so injured sued the licensee in the New York courts and were awarded damage and an injunction restraining it from maintaining the flashboards.


1. That the interest of the plaintiffs in the use of the water, even though subject to destruction under the power of the United States to control navigation, was, so far as the state laws were concerned, a vested right acquired under those laws, and, as such was, by § 27 of the federal Water Power Act, expressly saved from destruction or appropriation without compensation by licensees of the Commission, and that the licensee, by acceptance of the license under § 6 of that Act, must be deemed to have agreed to recognize and protect such interests. Pp. 280 U. S. 375, 280 U. S. 377.

2. Whether § 21 of the federal Water Power Act, giving to licensees the power of eminent domain, confers on them the power to condemn rights such as those of the plaintiffs, and whether it might have been invoked by the licensee in this case, were questions not before the Court. P. 280 U. S. 379.

249 N.Y. 495 affirmed.

Certiorari, 279 U.S. 829, to review a judgment entered in the Supreme Court of New York on remittitur from the court of appeals, restraining the above-named petitioner from maintaining flashboards on a dam in the Hudson River, and awarding damages.

Page 280 U. S. 374

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