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Court Nixes Defense |in FAA Squatting Case

(CN) - The government lost ground in a rental property dispute when the Federal Aviation Administration admitted that it kept operating an aircraft guidance station on leased property in Mississippi after its lease expired.

The FAA rented 72 acres of land in Madison County, Miss., to operate a Very High Frequency Omni-Range Radar Tactical Navigation (VORTAC) facility, a ground radar station that helps navigate aircraft.

Reunion Inc., Cypress Brake Properties and Annandale Investors claimed the FAA committed continued to occupy the property after the lease expired in September 2008, in violation of the Fifth Amendment's takings clause.

The Court of Federal Claims granted Reunion's motion to strike one of the government's defenses - that the lawsuit failed to state a claim - because the FAA had conceded a "temporary physical taking of a leasehold interest in the VORTAC property."

"In light of the government's explicit 'admission of liability' respecting Reunion's temporary takings claim and its concessions of fact regarding Reunion's contract claim, the government's defense of failure to state a claim is unavailing," Judge Charles F. Lettow wrote.

But the claims court denied Reunion's motion to strike the government's jurisdictional defense on the grounds that the court lacks authority to decide if the government's admitted squatting violates FAA regulations.

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