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Toby Prince Brigham

Toby Prince Brigham

Emeritus Member

Miami, Florida

For over 50 years, Toby Brigham (retired) devoted his law practice to the defense of constitutional property rights. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Florida College of Law, Mr. Brigham founded his Miami-based law practice in 1960. During his extensive career, he represented landowners throughout the State of Florida and across the country in eminent domain, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings and property rights litigation.  With extensive experience in both federal and state courts, he secured some of the largest trial verdicts and settlement awards for landowners in Florida’s eminent domain history.

Mr. Brigham has been recognized by both scholars and practitioners for his effective advocacy of private property rights. In 2004, William and Mary College of Law established the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference and Prize which annually recognizes scholarly contributions to the study of property rights and affirms the fundamental relationship between private property rights and individual civil rights.  He lectured extensively on property rights for the American Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Law Institute as well as for numerous other private and public organizations. His article “The Art of Winning,” remains common reading in law school property rights courses today.

Notable Cases

  • A taking by the South Florida Water Management District for a reservoir, the condemnation award agreed to by the owners stands as the single largest amount for a taking in Florida history. South Florida Water Management District v. Palm Beach Aggregates, Inc., et. al.
  • Mr. Brigham and a team of attorneys represented the owner of an 820 acre citrus grove that was part of an Everglades flood control zone in a federal court case. The government’s offer was approximately $6.1 million and the final award was $22.7 million. Mr. Brigham successfully argued that the government’s announcement to condemn the property nine years before acquiring, constituted oppressive pre-condemnation conduct. United States of America v. 820 acres of Land, John Kennelly.
  • A significant archeological site was discovered on the banks of the Miami River in connection with construction of a new residential high-rise project. When Miami-Dade County acted to preserve the site through a “quick taking,” Brigham and his trial team mobilized to defend the landowner in the ensuing compensation dispute. The County had initially only offered to pay for the raw land at approximately $8 million, but firm attorneys prevailed on the court to rule that compensation for the in-progress development would be required. Subsequent settlement negotiations resulted in an award of approximately $18 million, and thus both history and constitutional rights were preserved. Miami-Dade County v. Brickell Point, Ltd.
  • The Florida Department of Environmental Protection sought to condemn 653 acres of pristine beachfront property in the Florida panhandle. The client offered to sell a large portion to the state, but that offer was rejected. The government subsequently down zoned the property, decreasing it’s property value and offered the owner a reduced amount. Mr. Brigham and his team argued the state hadn’t proved it needed to condemn the land to protect it and that the government’s desire for the property led to the down zoning. The Court entered its Order denying the taking and while the rehearing was pending, the Court entered a Final Judgment which transferred the property to the government for $84 million; $59 million higher than originally offered. Department of Environmental Protection v. St. Joe Paper Company.
  • A jury trial in which the award of $23,350,000 was 11+ million higher that the City’s first offer. Condemnor is required to pay interest for the time between the date it takes possession of the property and the date full compensation is paid to the landowner. City of Miami v. Florida East Coast Railway Company.
  • Obtained order establishing new cause of action for “oppressive pre-condemnation conduct” requiring compensation to landowner for deliberate delay in filing condemnation proceedings in order to leverage acquisition negotiations. York v. South Florida Water Management District.
  • Defeated an attempt by the City of Ft. Lauderdale to condemn downtown riverfront property for allegedly historical purposes by convincing the court that the taking was motivated by the special interests of an adjacent landowners. The resulting settlement requires the City to give fair consideration to the owner’s development proposals. City of Fort Lauderdale v. Coolidge-South Markets Equities, L.P.
  • The City of Miami attempted to acquire privately owned bay bottom lands ostensibly for the extension of a road. The Court denied the attempted taking due to the proven “bad faith” of the City, which in fact did not want the road but simply desired public ownership of the bay bottom. City of Miami v. Wolfe.
  • In a landmark case Judge ruled that certain contested moving costs are part of the “full compensation” required by the Florida Constitution because they are necessary to make the owner “whole.” Malone v. Department of Transp.

Professional Activities

  • Past Program Chair, American Law Institute – American Bar Association (ALI-ABA) Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Program
  • Founding Member and Past President, Owners’ Counsel of America (2000-2005)
  • Former Member, Florida Bar, Eminent Domain Committee Chairman (1972-1973),
  •  Former Member, American Bar Association
  • Former Member, Dade County Bar Association