Author: OwnersCounsel

April 16th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

OCA Member’s Recent Win Highlights Growing Concerns Over Damage Caused by Flooding and Water Events

Nearly every week OCA receives one or more phone calls from concerned property owners relating to flooding or other water related events causing significant damage to their property. With climate change and global warming placing ever increasing burdens on our aging public infrastructure, these complaints are likely to continue and even increase. Indeed, OCA member  Randall Smith (whose practice in lowlying Louisiana places him at the forefront of this issue) recently won a lawsuit against the City of Mandeville over a municipal drainage project’s impact on land owned by Hilda Maestri Landry. Randall’s lawsuit alleged that the project altered the natural flow of the Ravine Au Coquilles, also known as No Name Bayou, so that it overflowed its natural banks to impact the Landry property. In the court’s judgement recognizing the legitimacy the claim, instead of awarding damages, the court ordered the city to dig out part of the ravine, place backfill, and install pipes to correct the problem. The court also directed the city to do the work with oversight by the owner’s expert and to pay all costs incurred by the landowner. If you are experiencing a floodng event that you believe is the result of government actions, reach out to an OCA member or read this helpful article on OCA’s website, entitled,“My Property is Being Flooded–Is That a Taking That I Can Be Compensated For Under the Constitution?” 

Read More

April 5th, 2021 — In News & Events

Divided Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Highway’s Jurisdictional Offer in Controversial Case

We are disappointed in the recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court upholding a pre-condemnation jurisdictional offer made by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) to a property owner that deviated substantially from the Department’s own appraisal which, under Wisconsin law, is required to form the basis of the offer. As three Supreme Court Justices (including the Chief Justice) correctly pointed out in their strong dissent, the jurisdictional offer was not based upon the appraisal that DOT had provided the owner, but rather on DOT’s own internal administrative review. An important factor in the case was the difference between DOT’s appraisal of $133,400 and the jurisdictional offer of $403,200, resulting in a 202% increase in value. OCA filed an Amicus Brief in this important case which can be viewed here. 

Read More

April 5th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference Now Scheduled for 2022

Mark your calendars for the next ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference to be held in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. The conference dates are January 27-29, 2022. Exploring a full range of cutting-edge issues and drawing professionals from across the country, this annual conference is always “the place to be” for all eminent domain and land use practitioners looking to learn from recognized and experienced professionals representing the diverse stakeholders in these cases.

Read More

April 4th, 2021 — In News & Events

North Dakota Court Rules in Property Owner’s Favor in Pre-Condemnation Entry Claim by Condemnor

In the recent case entitled Cass County Joint Water Resource District, v. Cash H. Aaland, Larry W. Bakko and Penny Cirks, the North Dakota Supreme Court rules in the property owners favor on the issue of whether a Water District had the authority to enter upon the owner’s property prior to filing a condemnation case, as part of a flood diversion project.  In this unique factual situation, the Water District had previously been granted access to the owner’s property for sixteen and one-half months under a North Dakota right-of-entry statute to conduct examinations, surveys and mapping. However, after its initial right-of-entry had expired, it sought to extend the right by negotiating with the property owner for easements to install permanent survey monuments in order to conduct geomorphic examinations. When those negotiations failed, instead of seeking to condemn the easements, it sought an extension of its previous occupancy of owner’s property, using the same right-of-entry statute, for an additional nineteen months, bringing the total occupancy period to thirty-five and one-half months. In ruling that the right-of-entry statute did not authorize such an expanded and more invasive use of owner’s property, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision allowing the entry to occur. The case is helpful in terms of its discussion of other state cases addressing pre-condemnation right-of-entry issues.

Read More

March 23rd, 2021 — In News & Events

Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid Oral Argument

The Supreme Court is currently entertaining an interesting property rights case entitled Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid. Cedar Point Nursery together with Fowler Packing Company are California fruit growers that employ around 3,000 Californians. In 2015, the United Farm Workers (UFW) sent union organizers to Cedar Point’s workplace during harvest time to encourage them to unionize. Under California’s Union Access Regulation the organizers are granted an easement that allows them to enter a business’s private property three hours a day. The businesses are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate this regulation and affirm that government can’t allow unions on private property without paying compensation for a property taking. Cedar Point is being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation. For more information about the case and the arguments being made check out OCA Member Robert Thomas’ Inverse Condemnation Blog.

Read More

March 3rd, 2021 — In OCA Blog

OCA Member Michael Rikon Inducted into IAOTP’s Hall of Fame

Michael Rikon, OCA’s New York Member and a Partner of Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton, P.C., was recently inducted into the exclusive Hall of Fame for 2021 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). These special honorees are distinguished based on longevity in their fields of practice, as well as their overall contributions to society. Mr. Rikon is being recognized for this honor based on over 50 years in the legal industry. Mr. Rikon was previously honored at IAOTP’s 2019 Annual Award Gala as Top Attorney of the Year and will again be honored at IAOTP’s 2021 Annual Award Gala at the end of this year.  To view Mr. Rikon’s OCA bio and profile, click here. We congratulate Michael on this wonderful honor and deserving recognition.

Read More

February 24th, 2021 — In News & Events

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Take Up Important Land Use and Takings Case out of Hawaii

A few days ago the U.S. Supreme Court in this order declined to issue a writ of certiorari to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Bridge Aina Lea, LLC v. Hawaii Land Use Comm’n, No. 20-54, a case in which a federal court jury concluded the property owner suffered both a Lucas and Penn Central taking, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that no reasonable jury could have found a taking. This is a missed opportunity for our highest court to provide much needed guidance in an area of the law that desperately needs clarity. One positive outcome from the court’s dodge is the dissenting opinion from Justice Thomas, in which he writes that “it would be desirable for us to take a fresh look at our regulatory takings jurisprudence, to see whether it can be grounded in the original public meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Murr v. Wisconsin, 582 U.S. ___, ___ (2017) (dissenting opinion) (slip op., at 1). For a fuller discussion of the case, court and dissenting opinion, please read OCA Member Robert Thomas’ Inverse Condemnation Blog.

Read More

February 20th, 2021 — In News & Events

Destruction of Home During Police Enforcement Operations Not a Compensable Taking

Many people would assume that if a police department or swat team completely destroyed someone’s private residence during an operation to apprehend a fleeing suspect, particularly when that suspect did not have an ownership interest in the residence, the government would be responsible and liable for the destruction under the Fifth Amendment “takings clause” of the United States Constitution. But in two recent court decisions, one from Colorado decided in 2019 entitled Lech vs. Johnson and one from South Dakota decided on February 10, 2021  entitled Hamen v. Hamlin County,  Hamen v. Hamlin County, the courts reached a different conclusion. In each, the court ruled that such exercises of the government’s police power cannot constitute a taking of private property warranting the payment to just compensation. In Colorado, the fleeing suspect (who was being chased for shoplifting at a Walmart store) had no ownership or other interest in the home he took refuge in; in other words the owners were innocent bystanders. In the South Dakota case, the police were under the impression that the suspect in a series of crimes was holed up in his parent’s mobile home. He was not and the police did not assert that his parents had any involvement in his criminal activities. For more background about each of these cases, read Robert Thomas’ Inverse Condemnation Blog discussion by clicking here.

Read More

February 17th, 2021 — In News & Events

Condemnor’s Quick Take Powers Require That Owner Receive Preliminary Compensation Offer

A recent Supreme Court  decision out of Massachusetts illustrates the need to make sure a property owner receives what is deemed preliminary compensation (referred to in the opinion as the “pro tanto payment”) when a condemnor exercises its quick take powers to acquire and take control of an owner’s property before the condemnation action is completed and before the final determination of just compensation has been made. Indeed, the court rules that the preliminary payment must be extended to the property owner even if the owner is contesting the eminent domain case and seeking to have the property returned. In Abuzahra v. City of Cambridge, the City refused to make the preliminary offer of compensation (an amount of $3.7 million) available to the owner Abuzahra because of questions regarding the state of title. However, even after the title issue had been resolved and Abuzahra established he was the rightful recipient of the funds, the City continued to refuse to pay him because he was challenging the taking. To read the opinion in full click here. To understand the concept of “quick take” also called “immediate possession,” refer to OCA’s Dictionary of Key Terms.

Read More

February 17th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

Considering the Condemnation of Golf Course Land or Golf Facilities-Not So Fast

OCA’s New York  member Michael Rikon writes in his Bulldozers at Your DoorStep Blog about the hazards and risks associated with a condemnor seeking to acquire a golf course or lands associated with a golf facility by eminent domain main. “Not so fast,” Mike advises. Before deciding that such actions are a good idea, the condemnor might wish to critically analyze the concept of highest and best use. To learn more about this concept and the part it plays in assessing a parcel’s development potential and resulting fair market value, read Mike’s article here. You might also wish to check out OCA’s Featured article entitled, “A Landowner’s Guide to Understanding the Concept of Highest and Best Use.” 

Read More

close