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UNITED STATES V. PETTY MOTOR CO., 327 U. S. 372 (1946)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Petty Motor Co., 327 U.S. 372 (1946)

United States v. Petty Motor Co.

No. 77

Argued December 6, 1945

Decided February 25, 1946*

327 U.S. 372


The United States in 1942 acquired by condemnation for public use a building then occupied by tenants holding under leases for various terms. The use taken was for a period ending June 30, 1945, with the right of surrender in 1943 or 1944 on 60 days' notice to the owner. An order for immediate possession was entered, and tenants were given notices varying from six to twenty days to vacate.


1. Since termination earlier of the period for which the property was taken was wholly at the election of the United States, the taking must be deemed a taking for public use until June 30, 1945. P. 327 U. S. 374.

2. The measure of damages is the value of the use and occupancy of the leasehold for the remainder of the tenant's term, less the amount of the rent which the tenant agreed to pay for such use and occupancy. P. 327 U. S. 381.

3. A tenant whose lease contained a "termination by condemnation" clause was without any right of recovery. P. 327 U. S. 375.

4. Tenants whose leases were for terms shorter than the period for which the property was taken for public use were not entitled to have costs of removal or relocation considered as elements of "value" of their rights under the unexpired portions of their leases. United States v. General Motors Corp., 323 U. S. 373, distinguished. P. 327 U. S. 378.

5. In the case of tenancies at will, determination of the remainder of the term will depend upon the requirements of state law as to notice for the termination of such tenancies. P. 327 U. S. 380.

6. In the case of a tenant whose lease contained a right of renewal for a year, the value of that right (if it continued under

Page 327 U. S. 373

the state law) must be added to the value of the unexpired term of the lease. P. 327 U. S. 380. 147 F.2d 912, reversed.

Proceedings instituted by the United States for the condemnation of a building for temporary public use resulted in verdicts for the tenants. On appeal by the United States, the circuit court of appeals affirmed. 147 F.2d 912. This Court granted certiorari. 325 U.S. 848. Reversed, p. 327 U. S. 381.

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