The Law School Authority

City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders Case Brief

Summary of City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders, Ct. of Appeal of CA (1982)

Parties: Football team vs. its current/former/born again team.

Cause of action/remedy sought: The following is a legal action of eminent domain.

Procedural History: Trial court dismissed the action (SJ).  Dismissal reversed by the Court of Appeal and was once again remanded for a hearing.  Court of Appeal ruled that it violated the Commerce Clause.

Facts: In 1980, the owners of the Oakland Raiders professional football team decided to move the franchise to Los Angeles.  The city of Oakland sought to keep the team by acquiring it through eminent domain.

Issue(s): Under CA property law, is the taking of a professional team from the city it intends to move back to the city it moved from a valid public use?

Holding: No.  Although the court has in the past have held recreation is a public use, a football team is a business, and is thus part of American commerce.

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning:  CA courts in the past have held that anything for the promotion of recreation of the public, the education, or pleasure of the public is considered constituting a public purpose.  Again, a football team is a business, but some case law pointed to the taking of businesses as being in line with the policy behind the rule.

In fairness, however, it must be said that the trial court fully acknowledged “the intent of the Legislature to allow the taking of any type of property, real or personal, if it was in fact necessary for a public use.” But the court concluded as a matter of law that (1) no statutory or charter provision specifically authorized the taking of a professional football franchise, and (2) the operation of such a franchise is not a recognized public use which would permit its taking under general condemnation law. Assuming, for purposes of discussion, the propriety of the first premise, this fact alone is insufficient to support summary judgment; and we cannot agree with the second premise, which we now explore.

Rule: Because the power to condemn is an inherent attribute of general government, the court observes that constitutional provisions merely place limitations upon its exercise. The two constitutional restraints are that the taking be for a “public use” and that “just compensation” be paid therefore.

Did court avoid issues?: No.

Dicta: This is a case of first impression.

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