News & Events

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.”

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April 19th, 2018 — In News & Events

Congratulations to OCA Emeritus Member James Thompson

James L. Thompson, a partner with Miller, Miller & Canby and OCA Member Emeritus has been selected as Senior Lawyer of the Year by the Maryland State Bar Association Senior Lawyer Section.

Thompson’s career has spanned more than 45 years, during which he has served clients and the legal community. He concentrates his practice in eminent domain and real estate valuation litigation, as well as civil litigation involving complex real estate and commercial disputes. He has led the litigation practice group at Miller, Miller & Canby for more than 25 years.

In addition to his legal work, Mr. Thompson has served the legal community at large by his participation with the county, state and national bar associations. He served as President of the Montgomery County Bar Association, President of the Maryland State Bar Association and was active in the American Bar Association with service in the House of Delegates. He currently serves on the Committee on Public Trust & Confidence, appointed by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

For his record of excellence and commitment to his profession he received the Daily Record’s Leadership in Law Award,  the Montgomery County Bar Association’s Century of Service Award and the Federal Bar Association’s Peter D. Dirito Endowment Award, bestowed annually to recognize public service in the enhancement of the legal profession and the advancement of justice.  He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, has been a named Super Lawyer for the state of Maryland every year since 2007. He was also named Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in 2013, in the area of Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law.

In 2011, Thompson traveled to Beijing with a group of scholars and attorneys to exchange ideas as a panelist at the Brigham Kanner Property Rights Conference. He has authored a variety of articles on eminent domain and has worked with the Maryland legislature to reform eminent domain laws and protect the rights of property owners. He served for 20 years as the Maryland member for the Owner’s Counsel of America.

Thompson is a regular lecturer in national eminent domain litigation seminars, as well as in the state of Maryland where he has lectured in numerous CLE activities pertaining to trial work in a variety of practice areas. He speaks regularly at academic institutions throughout the state, including at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and the University of Baltimore School of Law.

He will receive his MSBA Senior Lawyer of the Year award at a ceremony May 6 in Timonium.

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Joshua E. Baker

February 13th, 2018 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel of America Elects Joshua E. Baker as Virginia Representative

Owners’ Counsel of American (OCA) is pleased to announce the selection of Joshua E. Baker of the firm of Waldo & Lyle as the Primary OCA Representative for the State of Virginia. After an extended vetting process, Owners’ Counsel of America limits its membership to but one eminent domain attorney from each of the 50 states. The Virginia seat was previously occupied by Joseph T. Waldo who has been elected to Emeritus Status. Baker, who has been practicing for 12 years, is well-known throughout Virginia, not only for his representation of private property owners, but also as a grassroots advocate for property rights reforms. In addition to his robust eminent domain practice, Baker is called every year to testify at hearings on private property rights issues before the Virginia General Assembly or to assist in the drafting of eminent domain legislation. His expertise and reputation have helped defeat measures that would limit owners’ rights in condemnation cases, and pass reforms strengthening them. Baker also played a leadership role in the drafting and advocacy of Virginia’s 2012 enactment of a constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of eminent domain for economic development. Like many OCA members, Baker limits his practice exclusively to the representation of private property owners facing the loss of or damage to their property through condemnation, inverse condemnation and regulatory takings. In 2017, Baker resolved over 40 different property rights disputes with just compensation payments ranging from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousands of dollars.

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February 8th, 2018 — In News & Events

This Is Not A Taking for Affordable Housing According To Landowners’ Attorney

Richard De Angelis, with the law firm of McKirdy, Riskin, Olson, and DellaPelle (where OCA Member Tony DellaPelle also practices) is currently representing private landowners in New Jersey who are asserting that their property is being taken for private redevelopment purposes disguised as an affordable housing project. The borough’s claim that it can seize four downtown properties in the name of affordable housing is nothing more than a “whitewash” to help a for-profit development move forward, argues Mr. Angelis. The response was sparked by the Borough Council’s passage of an ordinance allowing it to take the lots via eminent domain, if the property owners do not agree to sell.

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February 6th, 2018 — In News & Events

2018 Crystal Eagle Award Winner Luis Gallardo-Rivera

Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) announces that it has presented its highest honor, the Crystal Eagle Award, to Luis Gallardo-Rivera of Puerto Rico, a person who has consistently demonstrated his passion and commitment to the protection of private property rights in his native country of Puerto Rico. Working with other dedicated citizens who believe that the residential communities of Puerto Rico need not be sacrificed in the name of economic and private redevelopment projects, Luis Gallardo-Rivera has fought diligently to transform and modernize Puerto Rico’s eminent domain laws. In 2012, as a student in the pro bono clinic of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, Luis and others worked closely with Professor Maria Hernandez to draft municipal ordinances designed to curb expropriation abuses at the local level. Later, under the mentorship of Professor Adi Martinez, Luis participated in the investigation and legal filings that led to the Supreme Court’s decision in Guaynabo vs. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, finding that the rights of hundreds of families living in the community of Vietnam had been violated by their unlawful displacement. Later, in 2015 Luis was instrumental in drafting and lobbying for the passage of House Bill 2321, a major piece of legislation designed to update and transform the eminent domain laws of Puerto Rico in order provide private landowners faced with the taking of their property greater legal protections and due process safeguards. Although House Bill 2321 was tabled without being acted upon, the hard work of Luis and other dedicated individuals brought public and media attention to the critical need for eminent domain reform. In 2017, Luis also fought against House Bill 911, legislation that would have rolled back earlier hard fought eminent domain laws requiring a citizen referendum before takings could proceed in certain special communities within Puerto Rico.

“After learning about the tireless efforts of Luis and so many other dedicated individuals and community leaders in Puerto Rico to bring about eminent domain reform and private property ownership protections, Owners’ Counsel of America became convinced that he was a worthy recipient of the highest award our organization could bestow upon an individual.”  Leslie Fields, Executive Director of Owners’ Counsel of America.

The Crystal Eagle Award is reserved for individuals who have made a substantial contribution toward advancing private property rights.  By presenting the award, OCA seeks not only to highlight and honor an individual’s dedication and efforts to further the cause of private ownership but also bring attention to private property rights, the use and misuse of eminent domain and the core beliefs held by OCA and its members that the right to own property is constitutionally guaranteed and fundamental to our society.

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January 31st, 2018 — In News & Events

Louisiana Supreme Court Decides St. Bernard Port, Harbor v. Violet Dock Port, Inc.

On January 30, 2018  a unanimous Louisiana Supreme Court found that Violet Dock Port, after a 7-year courageous battle, was not accorded just compensation for the taking of its private property and remanded the case back to the appellate court for such a determination. Unfortunately, divided by a 4-3 vote, the Court did not also find the taking of the property to be unconstitutional, given the landowner’s assertion that its’ property and the existing business was being acquired for the purpose of operating that business and turning it over to another private company. OCA member, Randall A. Smith, counsel for Violet Dock Port has indicated that his client will seek a rehearing on the constitutionality of the taking and will pursue all just compensation claims.

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November 15th, 2017 — In News & Events

American Law Institute Selects Joseph T. Waldo as New Member

OCA member Joseph T. Waldo

Owners’ Counsel of American would like to congratuate OCA member Joseph T. Waldo for being selected by the American Law Institute (ALI) as a new member as this organization embarks on a major study of property law in America. Joe is the president of Waldo & Lyle and the designated OCA representative from Virginia.

ALI is composed of attorneys, judges and legal scholars from all 50 states. ALI was founded in 1923 with the purpose of improving the law and the administration of justice. Judges, legislatures, law schools, and law firms across the country rely for guidance on its studies and research, known as Restatements.

In its announcement ALI pointed to Joe Waldo’s expertise in property rights law as the reason for his election. The organization is now in the midst of a major study aimed at bringing “comprehensiveness and coherence to American property law.” Among the areas to be addressed: protection of and limits on ownership; divided and shared ownership; title and transfer; easements, servitudes, and land use; and public rights and takings. The study is expected to take 7 to 10 years.

“By participating in the Institute’s work, “ the announcement states that Joe Waldo “would have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good. “

Said Mr. Waldo:

“I am honored to be included in the company of such thoughtful leaders and am eager to work on the improvement of property rights law.”

Read the press release articles/ali-elects-35-new- members/

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October 27th, 2017 — In News & Events

35th Annual ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Conference in Charleston, South Carolina

Watch this video from OCA member Robert Thomas talking about the upcoming ALI-CLE Eminent Domain Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. This is a fantastic conference for anyone interested in getting better informed on the most current eminent domain issues across the country. Many of our OCA members will be attending as well as presenting on a variety of interesting topics. Please come and join us.

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October 19th, 2017 — In News & Events

OCA Member Randall Smith Argues Precedent Setting Eminent Domain Case Before Louisiana Supreme Court

Violet Dock Port

As reported in the New Orleans Advocate, this facility, once owned by the Violet Dock Port but since taken through eminent domain by St. Bernard Port, Harbor & Terminal District, is at the center of a protracted legal dispute that came before the Louisiana Supreme Court for argument on Monday. For decades, the facility serviced U.S. Navy ships on three of its five docks. The Violet Dock Port claimed that it was unfairly taken by the District to lease it to another private entity that would operate the same business and generate the same revenues as the Port had for years. On behalf of the former owners, OCA Member Randall Smith argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court that the taking violated the Louisiana and U.S. constitutions and should be overturned, with the property returned to the landowners. Mr. Randall also argued that if the lower split appellate decision was not overturned, the District should be forced to pay his clients a replacement value of $41 million or more for the loss of their property. In addition to the OCA itself (with the assistance of OCA Member Robert Thomas), numerous amicus groups joined in supporting Violet Dock Port, including the Institute for Justice (with the help of OCA member, Dana Berliner), the National Federation of Independent Business, the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, Southeastern Legal Foundation, and the Cato Institute. On behalf of St. District, a national port organization and other Louisiana port entities submitted amicus briefs. Randall Smith is with the law firm of Smith & Fawer in New Orleans, LA.

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Shane Rayman

October 16th, 2017 — In News & Events

Owners’ Counsel of America Announces Addition of Shane Rayman as Newest Member

Owners’ Counsel of America is pleased to announce the recent addition of Shane Rayman to its membership base. Shane Rayman is a founding partner of Rayman Beitchman LLP, a boutique litigation firm in Canada focused on expropriations law and property rights litigation which are also Shane’s primary practice areas. His practice also includes commercial litigation and defending professionals on liability issues relating to expropriations law.

In addition to having appeared before all levels of Court in Ontario and the Federal Court of Canada, Shane has represented his clients in many significant cases relating to land compensation claims throughout Ontario, including the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Antrim Truck Centre v. Ontario (Ministry of Transportation). This appeal resulted in a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in favor of the Appellant owner and set a precedent relating to real property rights and the balance between public and private property interests in Canada. Shane has also been involved in major infrastructure projects throughout Ontario, including the 407 East, the TYSSE Subway extension, Metrolinx initiatives and LRT Projects. 

Shane is a past president of the Ontario Expropriations Association and has been a director since 2006. This Association is made up of individuals from professions involved in the acquisition of land for public purposes and provides a forum for such professionals to educate one another on relevant issues. Shane is a member of the Ontario Bar Association, the Advocates’ Society and the Ontario Chapter of the International Right of Way Association. Shane currently serves as a director of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority Consultative Committee. Shane has presented to audiences throughout Canada, along with international audiences on the topic of expropriations law and related legal issues.

Shane has presented on expropriations issues and private property rights throughout Canada, including in this 2016 interview by CBC.


Admission to the Law Society of Upper Canada, 2001

Osgoode Hall Law School, LL.B., 1999

York University, B.A. (Economics), 1996


Expropriating for Third Parties and the Disposition of Expropriated Lands, IRWA Spring Seminar, Niagara Falls, Ontario, May 2017

Ethical Issues in Eminent Domain, CLE International Eminent Domain Conference, Little Rock, Arkansas, May 2017

Sections 41 and 42 of the Expropriations Act, Ontario Expropriation Association Fall Conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 2016

Injurious Affection and the Canadian Approach to Damages for Partial Takings, CLE National Eminent Domain Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, September 2016

Municipal Powers to Expropriate, Law Society of Upper Canada’s Six-Minute Municipal Lawyer, Toronto, Ontario, May 2016

Renewable Energy Projects and Claims, IRWA Spring Seminar, Niagara Falls, Ontario, May 2015

Expert Evidence, Ontario Expropriation Association Fall Conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 2014

Presentation on Antrim Truck Centre v. Ministry of Transportation for Ontario, Alberta Expropriation Association Fall Conference, Banff, Alberta, October 2013

Antrim and its Future Implications, Ontario Expropriation Association Fall Conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 2013

Section 25 Offers of Compensation, Ontario Expropriation Association Fall Conference, Toronto, Ontario, October 2012

Trends in Avoiding Expropriation, Alberta Expropriation Association Annual Conference, Banff, Alberta, September 2011

Avoiding Formal Expropriations, British Columbia Expropriation Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 2010

Legal Obligations of Expert Witnesses, Annual Conference, Ontario Expropriation Association, Toronto, Ontario, October 2009

Expropriations Law in Canada, Delegation of the People’s Republic of China, Toronto, Ontario, September 2009

Full Day Seminar of Expropriations Law, IRWA Special Program, May 2009

Compensation for Expropriation in Canada, Delegation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Toronto, Ontario, April 2009

Advance Purchases of Public Lands, IRWA Fall Conference, Niagara Falls, Ontario, October 2008

Full Day Appraisal Seminar, New Brunswick Association of Real Estate Appraisers, Moncton, New Brunswick, April 2007


The Abandonment and Disposition of Expropriated Lands, 2016

Municipal Powers of Expropriation and Private Development, 2016

Navigating the Jungle: Private Nuisance and Renewable Energy Projects, 2015

Controlling Reasonable Costs, 2014

New Trends in Expropriation – Avoiding Expropriation, 2010

The Evolving Obligations of an Expert Witness, 2009

Tax Implications of Expropriation, 2009

The Private Nature of Necessity Hearings and Inquiry Officer Reports: An Oddity in the Ontario Expropriation Legislation, 2007

Legal Privilege and its Application to Appraisers, 2007

Large Scale Expropriations and Reverberative Effects, 2006

Private Rights, Public Good: Balancing Competing Interests under Expropriations Law, 2006

Threatened Expropriation and Blight: Valuation Issues, 2004

Expropriation: An Initial Perspective, 2004


Law Society of Upper Canada

Ontario Expropriation Association, Board Member and Past President

The Advocates’ Society of Ontario

International Right of Way Association, Ontario Chapter

Ontario Bar Association

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