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September 7th, 2018 — In News & Events

In Memoriam to Dixon Montague

OCA mourns the recent passing of one of its most beloved and admired members, Dixon Montague.  Dixon’s professional achievements are plentiful and lengthy. After graduating from Tulane University and the University of Mississippi (J.D. 1977), he joined Vinson and Elkins in Houston Texas. There he spent over 30 years representing clients in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and regulatory takings cases against local, state, and federal authorities in federal and state courts. Dixon was recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer annually since 2005 and listed in the Best Lawyers in America annually since 2008. He was honored as a Best Lawyer of the Year for Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law in 2012 and 2015. Dixon also served as a member of the Board of the Pacific Legal Foundation during a time when it experienced some of its most important victories for property rights, including the famous Koontz case. “All of us at PLF who knew Dixon will miss his passion and wisdom, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family,” says Jim Burling, OCA member and Vice President of Litigation for PLF.  In 2017 Dixon was awarded the prestigious Crystal Eagle Award by Owners’ Counsel of America for his zealous advocacy and creativity in pursuit of the truth and the constitutional promise of just and adequate compensation.  Dixon was one of a kind. We will miss him terribly. 

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July 16th, 2018 — In Articles

Owners’ Counsel of America and Many Others Call on U.S. Supreme Court to Overturn Unconstitutional and Pre-Textual Taking of Private Port Business Property.

In Violet Dock Port, Inc. v. St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal Dist., Owners’ Counsel of America joins with the Institute for Justice, the Rutherford Institute, the National Federation of Independent Business, Southeastern Legal Foundation, the Atlantic Legal Foundation, and the Cato Institute in filing Amicus Briefs asking the United States Supreme Court to review and reverse a lower court ruling that allowed the state of Louisiana to use its eminent domain powers to lay claim to property owned by one private port business so that it could be operated by a different private business.  Relying on Kelo v. City of New London, the Louisiana Supreme Court held that it was entirely proper to take a fully-functioning private facility with the intent to lease it to another private entity to operate, with the revenues earned from those operations to be shared by both the local government entity and its favored private actor. “Both the United States and Louisiana constitutions prohibit the taking of a privately owned, ongoing business for government operation, or for operation by another favored private entity,” Violet Dock Port attorney and OCA Member Randy Smith states. “This case tests the limits of government takings powers.”

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April 19th, 2018 — In News & Events

Congratulations to OCA Emeritus Member James Thompson

James L. Thompson, a partner with Miller, Miller & Canby and OCA Member Emeritus has been selected as Senior Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland State Bar Association Senior Lawyer Section. Thompson’s career has spanned more than 45 years, during which he has served clients and the legal community. He concentrates his practice in eminent domain and real estate valuation litigation, as well as civil litigation involving complex real estate and commercial disputes. He has led the litigation practice group at Miller, Miller & Canby for more than 25 years. In addition to his legal work, Mr. Thompson has served the legal community at large by his participation with the county, state and national bar associations. He served as President of the Montgomery County Bar Association, President of the Maryland State Bar Association and was active in the American Bar Association with service in the House of Delegates. He currently serves on the Committee on Public Trust & Confidence, appointed by the Maryland Court of Appeals. For his record of excellence and commitment to his profession he received the Daily Record’s Leadership in Law Award,  the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Century of Service Award and the Federal Bar Association’s Peter D. Dirito Endowment Award, bestowed annually to recognize public service in the enhancement of the legal profession and the advancement of justice.  He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, has been a named Super Lawyer for the state of Maryland every year since 2007. He was […]

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March 5th, 2018 — In Uncategorized

Manatt Triumps in Eminent Domain Lawsuit Against the United States

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, litigators, led by partner and OCA Member Edward G. Burg at trial, secured a victory for Hahm International Inc. and Levand Steel & Supply Corp. on Feb. 15 in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California against the United States. The jury awarded $30.3 million in compensation to the owners of 1,000 acres of land in the Mojave Desert, which was taken by eminent domain for expansion of the U.S. Marine Corps training base at Twentynine Palms.The property, owned by principals of Hahm International Inc. of Apple Valley and Levand Steel & Supply Corp. of Los Angeles, contained a permitted iron ore mine that was slated to supply iron ore to the cement industry for the next 45 years. The United States told the jury that the property was worth $5.6 million, while the owners claimed the property was worth $38.6 million.Burg, representing the property owners, hailed the verdict. “We always believed that the federal government vastly undervalued the property by not recognizing its uniqueness and its importance to future infrastructure and construction in California,” he said. The property owners currently own one of two active iron ore mines in California supplying iron to the cement industry. The property in the lawsuit, a permitted mine known as Morris Mine, was to become the next source of iron ore for the industry. Located in Johnson Valley, in the desert east of Apple Valley, it is the only iron ore mine permitted in the state in the […]

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February 28th, 2018 — In Articles

Five New Orleans stores to receive $2.1M from Major Drainage Project

Owners’ Counsel of America Member Randall Smith represented several landowners who filed damage claims arising from a sewage and sanitation project in New Orleans. After several years of litigation, the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board has agreed to pay five Uptown stores a total of $2.125 million for physical damages and the loss of business caused by major drainage work done on Jefferson Avenue in recent years. The settlement, finalized Monday, comes as the S&WB is preparing for trial in a case brought by 275 plaintiffs who allege their homes also were damaged by work on the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, usually referred to as SELA. Langenstein’s, Discount Corner, Prytania Liquor Store, Prytania Mail Service and British Antiques are among the first plaintiffs to settle claims against the S&WB for damage from the work that turned Jefferson, Napoleon and Louisiana avenues into construction zones for years The five businesses suffered structural damage, including cracks in their buildings and problems with their foundations, and saw their business drop off because the construction limited access to their locations, said Randy Smith, an attorney representing the stores. “At the end of the day, the S&WB and its lawyers stepped up and did what was right,” Smith said.

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February 13th, 2018 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel of America Elects Joshua E. Baker as Virginia Representative

Owners’ Counsel of American (OCA) is pleased to announce the selection of Joshua E. Baker of the firm of Waldo & Lyle as the Primary OCA Representative for the State of Virginia. After an extended vetting process, Owners’ Counsel of America limits its membership to but one eminent domain attorney from each of the 50 states. The Virginia seat was previously occupied by Joseph T. Waldo who has been elected to Emeritus Status. Baker, who has been practicing for 12 years, is well-known throughout Virginia, not only for his representation of private property owners, but also as a grassroots advocate for property rights reforms. In addition to his robust eminent domain practice, Baker is called every year to testify at hearings on private property rights issues before the Virginia General Assembly or to assist in the drafting of eminent domain legislation. His expertise and reputation have helped defeat measures that would limit owners’ rights in condemnation cases, and pass reforms strengthening them. Baker also played a leadership role in the drafting and advocacy of Virginia’s 2012 enactment of a constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of eminent domain for economic development. Like many OCA members, Baker limits his practice exclusively to the representation of private property owners facing the loss of or damage to their property through condemnation, inverse condemnation and regulatory takings. In 2017, Baker resolved over 40 different property rights disputes with just compensation payments ranging from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousands of dollars.

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February 8th, 2018 — In News & Events

This Is Not A Taking for Affordable Housing According To Landowners’ Attorney

Richard De Angelis, with the law firm of McKirdy, Riskin, Olson, and DellaPelle (where OCA Member Tony DellaPelle also practices) is currently representing private landowners in New Jersey who are asserting that their property is being taken for private redevelopment purposes disguised as an affordable housing project. The borough’s claim that it can seize four downtown properties in the name of affordable housing is nothing more than a “whitewash” to help a for-profit development move forward, argues Mr. Angelis. The response was sparked by the Borough Council’s passage of an ordinance allowing it to take the lots via eminent domain, if the property owners do not agree to sell.

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February 6th, 2018 — In News & Events

2018 Crystal Eagle Award Winner Luis Gallardo-Rivera

Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) announces that it has presented its highest honor, the Crystal Eagle Award, to Luis Gallardo-Rivera of Puerto Rico, a person who has consistently demonstrated his passion and commitment to the protection of private property rights in his native country of Puerto Rico. Working with other dedicated citizens who believe that the residential communities of Puerto Rico need not be sacrificed in the name of economic and private redevelopment projects, Luis Gallardo-Rivera has fought diligently to transform and modernize Puerto Rico’s eminent domain laws. In 2012, as a student in the pro bono clinic of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, Luis and others worked closely with Professor Maria Hernandez to draft municipal ordinances designed to curb expropriation abuses at the local level. Later, under the mentorship of Professor Adi Martinez, Luis participated in the investigation and legal filings that led to the Supreme Court’s decision in Guaynabo vs. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, finding that the rights of hundreds of families living in the community of Vietnam had been violated by their unlawful displacement. Later, in 2015 Luis was instrumental in drafting and lobbying for the passage of House Bill 2321, a major piece of legislation designed to update and transform the eminent domain laws of Puerto Rico in order provide private landowners faced with the taking of their property greater legal protections and due process safeguards. Although House Bill 2321 was tabled without being acted upon, the hard work of Luis and other dedicated individuals brought public and media attention to the critical […]

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January 31st, 2018 — In News & Events

Louisiana Supreme Court Decides St. Bernard Port, Harbor v. Violet Dock Port, Inc.

On January 30, 2018  a unanimous Louisiana Supreme Court found that Violet Dock Port, after a 7-year courageous battle, was not accorded just compensation for the taking of its private property and remanded the case back to the appellate court for such a determination. Unfortunately, divided by a 4-3 vote, the Court did not also find the taking of the property to be unconstitutional, given the landowner’s assertion that its’ property and the existing business was being acquired for the purpose of operating that business and turning it over to another private company. OCA member, Randall A. Smith, counsel for Violet Dock Port has indicated that his client will seek a rehearing on the constitutionality of the taking and will pursue all just compensation claims.

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November 15th, 2017 — In News & Events

American Law Institute Selects Joseph T. Waldo as New Member

Owners’ Counsel of American would like to congratuate OCA member Joseph T. Waldo for being selected by the American Law Institute (ALI) as a new member as this organization embarks on a major study of property law in America. Joe is the president of Waldo & Lyle and the designated OCA representative from Virginia. ALI is composed of attorneys, judges and legal scholars from all 50 states. ALI was founded in 1923 with the purpose of improving the law and the administration of justice. Judges, legislatures, law schools, and law firms across the country rely for guidance on its studies and research, known as Restatements.   In its announcement ALI pointed to Joe Waldo’s expertise in property rights law as the reason for his election. The organization is now in the midst of a major study aimed at bringing “comprehensiveness and coherence to American property law.” Among the areas to be addressed: protection of and limits on ownership; divided and shared ownership; title and transfer; easements, servitudes, and land use; and public rights and takings. The study is expected to take 7 to 10 years. “By participating in the Institute’s work, “ the announcement states that Joe Waldo “would have the opportunity  to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good. “ Said Mr. Waldo: “I am honored to be […]

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