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 […]
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 […]
August 27th, 2019 — In Articles
No Severance Damages for You, You Have a Special Benefit by OCA Member Mike Rikon
In his Condemnation and Tax Certiorari column, OCA New York Member Michael Rikon discusses partial acquisitions in condemnation cases and writes: “Within the area of consequential damages, we must explore, not only the loss in value suered by the remaining property, but the possible benefits to that remainder which are the result of the improvement for which the part taken was acquired. To further complicate things, the question arises, do we consider special benefits to the remainder as distinguished from general benefits? Read more 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.
June 24th, 2019 — In Articles
Knick Analysis, Part I: After More Than 30 Years, Supreme Court Reopens The Federal Courthouse Door To Property Owners
Read OCA Member Robert Thomas’ take on the recent Knick decision in his blog entitled Inverse Condemnation here.
June 12th, 2019 — In Articles
Awaiting ‘Knick’…Will SCOTUS Fix the Ripeness Mess?
The decision in an important takings case, Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, reargued Jan. 16, is soon to be released. Be watching for it,… By Dwight Merriam | June 11, 2019. Read more.
OCA Member Dwight Merriam Weighs In On Controversial Topic Before Connecticut Supreme Court
Over the last 40 years, more than 8 million babies have been born through the miracle of in vitro fertilization, creating new love and new families.But when couples split, what happens to the embryos? Is this a property rights issue or someting else? It’s not an easy question to answer. Connecticut would benefit from a law that providesguidance. In the meantime, the Connecticut Supreme Court has that question before it. See OCA Member Dwight Merriam’s recent Article on this controversial topic in the Hartford Courant.
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.”
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.