Facts: Raiders and ownership are done with lease in Oakland and want to move the
franchise to LA. Oakland sought to keep the Raiders by claiming eminent domain over
the franchise. The ownership argues that eminent domain does not apply because the
franchise is intangible property based on a series of complex contractual relationships.
The trial court held summary judgment in favor of the ownership.
Holding: Reversed and remanded. Eminent domain law authorizes the taking of
intangible property.
– the power of eminent domain is an inherent attribute of sovereignty…This
sovereign power has been described as “universally” recognized and “necessary
to the very existence of gov’t”
– this power, when properly exercised, affords the orderly compromise between the
public good and the protection and indemnification of private citizens whose
property is being taken to advance the good.
– A municipal corporation has no inherent power of eminent domain and can
exercise it only when expressly authorized by law. Under CA law, the gov’t may
condemn property when “A city may acquire by eminent domain any property
necessary to carry out any of its powers or functions.”
– Though there is no precedent establishing the legal right to an intangible, there is
no difference between intangible property and real property when considering
eminent domain law. “We are aware of nothing peculiar to a franchise which can
class it higher, or render it more sacred, than other property. A franchise is
property and nothing more. “then intangible acquires a value…no different from
the value of the business physical property”
– Unless restricted by law, the right of eminent domain encompasses property of
every kind and character, whether real or personal, or tangible or intangible
– If this unprecedented application of eminent domain law with its grossly
expansive reach were to be allowed negative consequences will result:
1. It renders the question, does a city have the power to condemn a
viable, ongoing business and sell it to another private party merely
because the original owner has announced his intention to move his
business to another city?
2. Is it proper for a municipality to drastically invade personal private
rights to further the policy statements asserted here?
Subsequent history: the City’s acquisition of the franchise by eminent domain would
violate the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. The Raiders’ ability to move from
Oakland not only effects the Raiders, but the entire NFL because every NFL member
depends on the other members for income. Also, the NFL has to operate at a national
level because the franchise owner has an economic self-interest in the identity, financial
stability, commitment, and good faith of the other owners.