Supreme Court refuses to hear Hage ‘takings’ case

The Supreme Court this week denied certiorari in the case of Estate of Hage v. U.S.

The Hage family, which owns the Pine Creek Ranch near Tonopah, has been waging a court battle with the federal agencies for 22 years.

Wayne Hage, left, his son Wayne N. Hage, and young Hage niece, Kristin, in 1999 during branding at Pine Creek Ranch near Tonopah, Nev. (Photo by Ramona Hage)

At one point in the many iterations of the Hage litigation a federal court awarded the Hages $2.9 million for the taking of their water rights under the Fifth Amendment and $1.4 million in statutory compensation for improvements made in connection with the revoked grazing permit. With interest the total award amounted to $14.2 million. And that was four years ago.

An appellate court vacated the award, saying the case was not yet “ripe” because the Hages had failed to continue filing for grazing permits, even though it would have been a futile gesture.

This past month a Nevada federal judge ordered Hage to apply for a permit and for the federal agencies to grant it. He also enjoined the government from issuing trespass or impound notices to Hage.

What that does to the ripeness of the takings case is unclear to me., but the Liberty and Property Rights Coalition quoted Wayne N. Hage, the heir of E. Wayne and Jean Hage, as saying:

“We of course are disappointed the Court failed to settle a dispute so central to the road and water way infrastructure of the West.  However, the question before the Supreme Court involved only a very small part of the eight published decisions issued by Judge Loren Smith and its impact on our ranching operation is minimal. …

 “All of Judge Smith’s property findings and most of the original $4.2 million judgment remain intact with 8 percent interest accruing.  Also important to ranchers is that the Federal Circuit found that we must be guaranteed access to our vested stock water rights.”

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