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]
April 16th, 2020 — In Uncategorized
PA Supreme Court Rejects Takings Challenge To COVID-19 Shut-Down Orders
In one of the first comprehensive court opinions on an issue of national interest, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected business owners’ challenges to the recent shut down orders issued by Governor Tom Wolf in response to COVID-19 on various legal grounds. Ruling that the orders were supported by a compelling public health rationale and were not a regulatory taking of property because they were temporary in nature, the court upheld them. For a full review and analysis of the opinion, click here.
July 23rd, 2019 — In Articles
Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania: Federal Courthouse Doors Now Open to Taking Claimants by OCA Member James Masterman
On June 21, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts “restor[ed] takings claims to the full-fledged constitutional status the Framers envisioned when they included the Clause among the other protections in the Bill of Rights.”Knick v. Township of Scott, 139 S. Ct. 2162 (2019). The Fifth Amendment’s “nor shall private property be taken without just compensation” is the clause Chief Justice Roberts references and is the bedrock protection afforded private property in the Bill of Rights, ensuring that full, fair, and just compensation is paid when a taking occurs. If rights guaranteed landowners in the Bill of Rights had so eroded that restorative action, and not merely interpretative, was necessary, there ought to be little dispute at the highest court. To the four justices who dissented, however, the Knick decision “smashes a hundred-plus years of legal rulings to smithereens.” Knick, 139 S. Ct. at 2183 (Kagan, J., dissenting). What could possibly have caused such a hot dispute in the fairly tepid world of eminent domain? Read on.
July 18th, 2019 — In Articles
The Nasty, Brutish, and Short Life of Agins v. City of Tiburon
By OCA Members Gideon Kanner and Michael Berger
IF THE DUKE OF YORK’S MEN THOUGHT they were being made to perform useless, repetitive tasks to no worthwhile end, they were in about the same condition as the American lawyers who were practicing tak- ings law in the 1970s and 1980s. During that period of time, hordes of lawyers representing the competing sides in regulatory taking cases were sent, figuratively, charging up the hill to the Supreme Court (which, to make the analogy complete, sits on top of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.) in an effort to do intellectual battle over the issue of remedies in regulatory taking cases. That issue was whether such takings call for constitutionally mandated “just compensation” as specified in the Fifth Amendment, or only for judicial invalidation of the constitutionally overreaching regulation. Read on.