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U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Pressl v. APCO Case Number 15-2348, 21 November 2016
Pressls WON -- Their Appeal Was Successful

Stand Up for Property Rights 

In June 2015 the Pressls filed suit in Franklin County Circuit Court asking the Court to determine if Appalachian Power Company had the right, under its flowage easement, to prevent Pressls from constructing a dock without APCO’s permission. APCO claimed the Pressls were seeking to violate the Federal Power Act (FPA) and Shoreline Management Plan by constructing a dock without APCO’s permission. After 17 months and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, on the 21st of November 2016, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled:

“... since FERC regulates only APCO, the Pressls themselves could not violate the Federal Power Act by constructing a dock. ... no federal question in this case is actually disputed. ... The Pressls challenge only whether the flowage easement by its terms allows APCO to prevent them from building a dock. ... State courts are just as able (perhaps more able) to interpret and enforce the property rights conveyed through instruments governed by state law. ... The interpretation of a state conveyance is a quintessential question of state property law, and Congress has limited our jurisdiction over such cases. ... For the foregoing reasons, we vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case [back to Franklin County Circuit Court].”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is one of twelve regional appellate courts within the federal judicial system. The court hears appeals from the nine federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and from federal administrative agencies. Consequently, this ruling has both national and local significance for APCO, FERC and other FERC regulated licensees:

(1) APCO can no longer fabricate federal jurisdiction to drag private property owners to federal court for alleged violations of the Federal Power Act, Shoreline Management Plan or its Federal License;

(2) APCO has no federal right to demand that property owners apply for permits;

(3) A Virginia court will determine Pressls' retained rights and conversely APCO’s limited rights under the flowage easement. To prevail APCO will be forced to prove how anyone’s dock violates the flowage easement and prevents APCO from flooding and operating the dam and associated power station;

(4) Permits that APCO has issued may be invalid, since those permits falsely claimed APCO held federal authority under their license to require property owners to sign its permits.

Conscience is our human fail-safe, preventing corrupt ideas from becoming corrupt actions. People without conscience never consider the consequences of their corrupt acts upon others. However, corporations are not human, consequently they often commit corrupt acts, without remorse, and scapegoat employees for failure to follow vague ethics statements or laws, to avoid accountability. Think of wall street bankers or a power company that takes property from its customers without compensation.

This unfortunate and costly experiment in the regulation of private property by a for-profit corporation exposed how APCO and FERC manipulated the lower federal district court to their advantage – the taking of private property, without compensation, to ultimately benefit APCO’s profit margins. Fortunately, C.U.R.B. supporters stood shoulder to shoulder with the Pressls in support of everyone’s constitutionally guaranteed right to private property. Many thanks to these advocates of this quintessential American freedom – the right to own and enjoy one’s property.

CURB will continue to furnish more analysis and discuss the impact of this decision upon Smith Mountain Lake landowners, businesses, local organizations, and local governments. 

Read the 4th Circuit's Decision HERE


Read the 18th Edition of CURB Update our bi-monthly newsletter.


The YouTube videos below provide an understanding of the property right's battle APCO is waging with shoreline property owners at Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes, and explain how to protect your deeded rights.

Definition of Extortion --  obtaining of property from another, with consentinduced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right(18 U.S.C. § 1951)




We are all Defendants and We Must Unite to Defeat APCO’s Bogus Claims

CURB needs your financial support to defeat this injustice and decisively end for all this illegal taking. C.U.R.B, Inc. is a 501c(4) Virginia corporation registered with the IRS as a Social Welfare Organization. Under IRS rules your donations remain anonymous and cannot be discovered. Contributions to C.U.R.B. are not tax deductible under IRS rules.  Donations by check should be sent to CURB 81 Lighthouse LN Moneta, VA 24121.

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