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Watts v. Entergy Arkansas, Inc.
Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV
November 7, 2018
MOSES WATTS, SR., AND RUBY WATTS APPELLANTS
ENTERGY ARKANSAS, INC. APPELLEE
FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CV-15-259]
HONORABLE ROBERT H. WYATT, JR., JUDGE
McMath, for appellants.
Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP, by: Bruce B. Tidwell, for
BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE
Watts, Sr., and Ruby Watts appeal a $1, 995 judgment
representing just compensation for the condemnation of a
utility easement over their property. A timeline is helpful
to understand their arguments against the condemnation
• June 1 (2015). Entergy Arkansas, Inc., filed
a petition in circuit court, titled an
"application," to condemn a portion of the
Wattses' property. The petition stated, in part, that
Entergy engineers had determined a permanent utility easement
was needed across the Wattses' property and that an
agreement with the property owners could not be reached.
• June 15. The circuit court granted Entergy an
order of immediate possession of the easement. Entergy
deposited $1, 995 into the court's registry-what it
considered to be the fair-market value of the property needed
for the use. See Ark. Code Ann. § 18-15-508
(Repl. 2015) (When an electric-utility company deposits money
in compliance with the order of the court, the company can
enter the land and proceed with its work before a jury trial
on just compensation.).
• June 27. Clay Nealy, a process server for The
Covert Connection, LLC, personally served Moses Watts, Sr.,
with the June 1 petition and June 15 order. Substituted
service was made on Ruby Watts. The summonses issued in the
case stated that Ruby and Moses had thirty days to file a
written answer to the lawsuit and "attached
• July 6. Proof of service of the summonses was
filed in the circuit court.
• July 21. The Wattses filed a "Motion for
Dismissal of Application for Condemnation of Lands And For
Immediate Possession Thereto." They argued, among other
things, that the circuit court's order of immediate
possession was "illegal," "unreasonably
wrong," and a violation of their constitutional rights
under the Fourteenth Amendment because "the Defendants
[the Wattses] were served with Motion and Order at the same
• July 23. Entergy responded to the motion to
dismiss and argued that it had complied with all Arkansas
laws allowing it to pursue eminent-domain rights to install
and maintain electrical lines, poles, and facilities.
• February 19 (2016). Ruby Watts argued during
a hearing on the Wattses' motion to dismiss that the
Wattses were denied due process when the June 1 petition was
filed and the immediate order of possession was given
"seven, eight, nine days later." "[W]e were
not afforded the ten-day notice to come in and object or
answer [the June 1 petition] . . . We didn't get that
right . . . due process under the Fourteenth Amendment."
• February 22. The circuit court denied the
Wattses' motion to dismiss. The court wrote that Entergy
complied with "the applicable statutory law . . . Ark.
Code Ann. §§ 18-15-501, et seq." It concluded
that the "due process rights of Moses Watts, Sr. and
Ruby Watts have not been violated."
• August (2017). A Jefferson County jury
rendered a verdict on just compensation for the property
Entergy took, and the circuit court entered a judgment
according to the ...
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