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.
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.”
February 3rd, 2021 — In OCA Blog
Anthony DellaPelle Assumes Leadership Role With Great Swamp Watershed Association
OCA’s New Jersey member and property rights attorney Anthony DellaPelle with the law firm of McKirdy Riskin Olson and Dellapelle out of Morris Township was recently elected as the new Board chairman of the Great Swamp Watershed Association. First formed in 1981 as a grassroots organization the Association has grown to serve over 2,200 members in some 40 municipalities within New Jersey. The principle mission of GSWA is to preserve and protect the water and natural areas under its purview. Five streams in the watershed form the Passaic River, which provides potable water for over a million New Jersey residents. “My main objective while serving as Chair is to have GSWA continue its essential work in protecting the watershed,” DellaPelle stated. “I want to increase awareness of the importance of our goals and efforts not only within the Great Swamp region and headwaters, but also in the downstream areas of the Passaic River as a result of the recent expansion of our mission to extend our geographic reach.”
November 21st, 2020 — In OCA Blog
Virginia Statute Allowing Electrical Easements to be Use for Broadband Challenged as Unconstitutional
After the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 831 authorizing utility companies to use existing “easements for the location and use of electric and communications facilities,” OCA’s Virginia member, Joshua Baker, filed suit, asserting that the law amounts to an unconstitutional taking of property rights without compensation and a denial of due process. Mr. Baker seeks a repeal of the legislation as part of the lawsuit. Mr. Baker explains that the property owners he represents, “are essentially giving up additional rights for for-profit companies to use their land,” but without being compensated for such rights. To read more about the case and the Complaint that was filed go to Robert Thomas’Inverse Condemnation Blog.
October 28th, 2020 — In Articles
Mike Rikon and Jon Houghton Discuss A Recent New York Case Addressing the Practice of Advance Payments and Sandbagging
In an article published in the New York Law Journal Owners’ Counsel of America Members Mike Rikon and Jon Houghon discuss the recent decision in Staten Island Land Corp and how it seeks to address the problem of advance payments and sandbagging in the State of New York. As they explain in the article, under New York’s quick take statute, the government can take title to property which it seeks to condemn by making an advance payment based on the government’s ‘highest approved appraisal’ before the final determination of just compensation has been made, which payment can subsequently be used by the owner to purchase replacement property. However, what happens if the condemning authority tenders a second (and much lower) appraisal at trial (a tactic called sandbagging) that results in a final just compensation determination well below the advanced payment? In such situations, the landowner can be forced to repay the deficiency amount, something that is difficult to do if the owner has already reinvested the money in replacement property. Read here on how the Staten Island case seeks to remedy this obvious injustice.
October 14th, 2020 — In Articles
Nailing Down Knick and Governmental Takings in Louisiana by OCA Member Randall A. Smith
Owners’ Counsel of America member Randall Smith writes in a new article published in the October/November issue of the Louisiana Bar Journal about the unique interplay between Louisiana’s expropriation laws and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in the Knick case. The article focuses on what Knick may mean for Covid-19 claims against local governments in the wake of mass shutdowns and other regulatory measures that are currently impacting businesses and property interests, both in Louisiana and nationwide. The article also highlights a case currently before the 5th Circuit involving enforcement of a $28,764,685 just compensation and interest judgment against Bernard Port that Randall Smith obtained for his client Violet Dock Port, as a result of the taking of its’ port facility in 2010. To read the Bar Journal article in full click here.
September 17th, 2020 — In OCA Blog
OCA’s Missouri Member Paul Henry Represents Property Owner in Taking for $190M Development Project
The St. Louis County Circuit Court recently approved University City’s request to condemn seven commercial properties within the footprint of Novus Development’s nearly $190 million project. Novus’ plans to use the site at Olive and Interstate I-70 to develop a mix of retail anchored by a Costco store, apartments, offices and potentially a hotel. Last year, the City approved $70.5 million in tax increment financing for the project. OCA Missouri Member, Paul Henry represents SSC Acquisitions, which entity owns one of the four properties impacted by the project. For more information about the project please click here.
September 17th, 2020 — In OCA Blog
7th Circuit Rules Construction of the Obama Presidential Center Is Not A Taking Under The Fifth Amendment
OCA’s Affiliate Member Michael Ryan covers in his firm’s blog the recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Protect Our Parks, Inc. v Chicago Park District, 2020 WL 4915631, affirming a grant of summary judgment in favor of the government on a Fifth Amendment takings claim. Protect Our Parks, Inc. and several individual Chicago residents had sued the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District in federal court to halt the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park by its sponsor, the Barack Obama Foundation. Plaintiffs argued several legal theories, one of which was a claim arising under federal law that, by altering the use of Jackson Park and handing over control to the Barack Obama Foundation, the defendants took the plaintiffs’ property interest for a private purpose in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. In ruling against the plaintiffs on the merits, the Seventh Circuit found that the plaintiffs failed to prove they have a private property interest in Jackson Park that is protected by the United States Constitution. The case is also covered in OCA Member Robert Thomas’ Inverse Condemnation Blog which you can read here.
August 15th, 2020 — In Articles
Your Private Property Rights in Minnesota Amidst COVID-19 by Mark Savin, Howard Roston and Ben Tozer
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial uncertainty for businesses. As of March 24, 2020, the President has declared an emergency under the Stafford Act and the Minnesota Governor has declared a peacetime emergency. Given the situation, the government may order businesses to close or take goods, equipment and space that may be needed for the government’s response. While the government has the power to take such extraordinary actions, that may not eliminate the Constitutional protections for private property owners. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that, “private property [shall not] be taken for public use without just compensation.” The Minnesota Constitution similarly provides that, “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation therefore, first paid or secured.”
If the government issues an order that shuts down businesses in order to “flatten the curve,” it is unlikely that such action will provide a successful takings claim against the government. On the other hand, taking private property or acquiring space —such as condemning a motel to use in isolating coronavirus patients as recently happened in the State of Washington or acquiring privately-owned medical equipment needed to respond to the emergency —may present successful claims for just compensation under the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. A practical approach is required as we expect courts to recognize that the government must respond promptly to this emergency. While the COVID-19 pandemic presents unique questions, we have experience protecting private property rights during emergency situations.
To read article in full click here.
August 15th, 2020 — In Articles
Natural Gas Pipeline Easements: An Overview of the Takings Jurisprudence by Andrew Brigham
Although the eminent domain power is an attribute of the sovereign, there are instances in which a private licensee is delegated the power for the acquisition of easements necessary to establish a lineal corridor. For the purposes of this article, our examination of the jurisprudence associated with the acquisition of lineal corridor rights takes place in the “laboratory” of the federal district courts in Florida. For it is there that a new interstate pipeline project, known as the Sabal Trail Natural Gas Pipeline, resulted in the filing of approximately 263 condemnation cases for a lineal corridor of some 247 miles needed to construct a thirty-six-inch-diameter pipeline capable of transmitting up to one billion cubic feet of natural gas a day.
In review of these cases, some of which are yet pending appeals before the Eleventh Circuit, we are able to observe how private property rights are regarded when it is a private company wielding the eminent domain power to acquire easement rights, which make servient the estates of owners to a use of property that purportedly diminishes the value of their remainder property due to fear or stigma. Likewise, because some of these cases actually proceeded to jury trial on the measure of compensation, a rare look is afforded as to exactly how, as gatekeeper, a trial judge must often balance between admitting evidence that furthers the owner’s entitlement to a measure of compensation, which includes loss or severance damages resulting from fear or stigma, but preclude evidence where under Federal Rule of Evidence 403 the probative value is outweighed by unfair prejudice or jury confusion. Within this context, evidence as to the existence of fear or stigma is relevant and admissible, while evidence as to the reasonableness of fear or stigma is irrelevant and inadmissible. Topics discussed in this article include:
(a) the progression of federal courts in condemnation cases under the Natural Gas Act to grant “immediate possession” in lieu of a delegated “quick-take” power;
(b) the federal courts’ application of state law instead of federal law as the choice of law that controls the measure of compensation;
(c) the federal courts’ decision to use jury trials instead of commission trials to determine the measure of compensation;
(d) the condemnor’s use of Daubert challenges to exclude or limit testimony and evidence that is related to severance damages resulting from fear or stigma;
(e) the condemnor’s objection to the testimony of the property owner as to the quantification of severance damages resulting from fear or stigma;
(f) whether jury trials result in a “fair” and “just” determination of the measure of compensation.
To read this article in full please refer to the Brigham Kanner Property Rights Journal, [Vol. 8:121]