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Charles L. Ruffin

Charles L. Ruffin


Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz, PC
1600 Monarch Plaza 3414 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30326
Tel:(404) 577-6000 | Fax:(404) 221-6501 |

Macon Office Location: Gateway Plaza, Suite 201, 300 Mulberry Street, Macon, GA 31201 PH: (478) 750-0777 | FAX: (478) 750- 1777

Charles L. Ruffin is a shareholder in the Atlanta and Macon offices of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz, PC. He concentrates his practice in eminent domain and condemnation law, representing landowners and business operators of all sizes in eminent domain (or “condemnation”) and inverse condemnation matters. Mr. Ruffin’s clients include a wide variety of national and international businesses from large multinational corporations to small individually owned businesses. Mr. Ruffin also represents nationally traded real estate investment trusts and other real estate investors. His clients include oil and gas interests, fast food franchisors and franchisees, hotel investors, commercial, shopping center and office developers, national drugstore chains, residential real estate developers, convenience store chains and a variety of individually owned enterprises, business operations, and properties.

In 2005, Mr. Ruffin testified on three occasions on behalf of landowner interests before a special Georgia Senate Committee considering revision of eminent domain laws following the U.S. Supreme Court decision inKelo v. City of New London.

Mr. Ruffin leads his firm’s eminent domain and condemnation law practice which is ranked Tier 1 by the US News/Best Lawyers ranking of practices in the United States.

Significant Eminent Domain and Property Rights Representations and Reported Decisions

  • April 2015 – Settled taking of 2.9 acres of property located in Sandy Springs in north Atlanta perimeter area. Settlement was for $7.0 million or $2.37 million dollars per acre. Property was taken as part of a city center project for the construction of a combined city hall and performing arts complex to be surrounded by a park. Settlement represented a 100% increase over the city’s appraisal.
  • January 2015 – Settled a case in central Georgia that involved an interference with parking area for and access to a general commercial/retail building and further development on the site. The settlement was for an amount 280 percent higher than sums paid into court by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
  • August 2014 – Negotiated a $1.1 million settlement of a condemnation case on the eve of a 4-day jury trial. The case concerned an undeveloped commercial outparcel along I-85 in southwest metro Atlanta and involved complicated historical issues. The settlement was nearly twice what the condemnor estimated as just and adequate compensation.
  • July 2014 – Obtained a jury award of $1.03 million in southwest metro Atlanta in a case involving a complicated deed construction matter by the jury and land valuation issues. The verdict was 730 percent higher than sums paid into court by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
  • July 2014 – Assisted as invited amicus curiae on behalf of the Firm and Owners Counsel of America in appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia. Court ruled in favor of party from whom assistance was requested on issue of when a condemnor may dismiss an appeal following a special master award. Supreme Court opinion salvaged a $5.1 million dollar award for condemnee.
  • June 2014 – Obtained a jury verdict against the GDOT in a case involving a recreational lake-oriented convenience store in central Georgia. The verdict results in an award of $1.22 million to the client, a gasoline and oil jobber, a sum 289 percent higher than that paid into court by the GDOT on commencement of the litigation.
  • November 2013 – Tried a jury trial involving damage to access to hotel property in central Georgia. Jury award resulted in a recovery 400 percent higher than the compensation offered by GDOT.
  • September 2013 – Settled major condemnation for national trucking firm in Savannah. Settlement involved substantial plan revisions avoiding taking of office building and land locking of property. In addition funds of $1.5 million were paid for property taken and for consequential damages and mitigation expense.
  • September 2013 – Settled taking of portion of major shopping center in north metro Atlanta. Settlement involved cash of $4.5 million and plan revisions to mitigate damage to center.
  • November 2012 – Tried a business loss and real estate condemnation case in west Georgia. After a nine-day trial obtained a jury verdict resulting in a recovery of $1.9 million dollars which represented a 100 percent increase over sums paid into court by the GDOT. The case involved a taking of property from and damage to a warehouse distribution company.
  • September 2012 – Negotiated for National Retailer a relocation of a power transmission line, thus avoiding major disruptions to operations.
  • August 2012 – Settled a case in Augusta, Georgia, for $2 million dollars which involved a real estate only taking of a lessor/nationally traded REIT’s interest in a casual dining concept restaurant. Settlement was 100 percent higher than the GDOT offer at mediation.
  • July 2012 – Obtained jury award after jury trial for mineral bearing property located in central Georgia that was 54 times higher than the GDOT pay-in to court resulting in a judgment after interest of a sum 80 times higher than the original payment to the Clerk of Court.
  • June 2012 – Settled condemnation for taking of right of way for access road constructed for new automobile assembly plant in west Georgia. Settlement was for $1.3 million dollars which is a 228 percent increase over the GDOT pay-in to court.
  • April 2012 – Negotiated cessation of intent to condemn northwest Georgia mountain property for upgrade of county emergency communication system. Success was based on a theory of prior dedication to a public use, that being a conservation easement.
  • October 2011 – Settled an eminent domain matter on behalf of a fast food restaurant corporation involving a metro Atlanta property. The location involved a corner interstate site in Clayton County. The Georgia Department of Transportation condemned the principal access to the site thus causing substantial damage to the value of the property. GDOT paid $2.3 million pursuant to the consent judgment obtained to conclude the settlement. That sum represented a 200 percent increase over the original sum offered by GDOT.
  • September 2011 – Settled a case involving mitigation and relocation costs for an Interstate 75 retail specialty and gasoline dispensary location. The settlement of $1,427,500 represented an increase of 60 percent over the GDOT pay-in to the court. The relocation and mitigation costs salvaged a business valued at $5.1 million.
  • July 2011 – After jury trial involving a Metro Atlanta auto repair franchisee, judgment for $1.15 million was entered for business loss award to client. Amount was 1,150,000 percent above the DOT business loss pay-in in the case.
  • January 2011 – Successfully tried to jury verdict a business loss claim by a major fast food franchisee in Central Georgia resulting from a total taking of the franchised site. The judgment was 320 percent higher than sums originally paid into court by the Georgia DOT.
  • October 2010 – Successfully defended an Atlanta based partnership that operates a 7,000 acre farming and quail hunting preserve in central Georgia against a private taking of land by an adjoining landowner.
  • April 2010 – Settled a condemnation action of a largely abandoned shopping center in Valdosta, GA. The settlement included $5.62 million in compensation while the client retained ownership of eight acres of in line space. The property was taken for a city-planned arts complex.

Speaking Engagements

  • “Probability of Rezoning as an Element of Valuation,” panelist, ALI-CLE
  • “Issues and Questions When a Franchise is Taken by Eminent Domain,” co-author, ALI-ABA National Eminent Conference presentation, Miami Beach, Florida, January 2013
  • “Overview of Private Property Development and Eminent Domain Law in Georgia,” invited speaker by Mercer University and Georgia State officials, Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia, October 17, 2011
  • “How to Properly Prepare a case for Trial on Behalf of the Condemnee,” Eminent Domain Section, State Bar of Georgia, November 2009
  • “The Examination of Expected Experts in a Condemnation Case,” American Law Institute – American Bar Association Conference on Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation, San Francisco, California, January 2008
  • “Update on Georgia Eminent Domain Law,” Georgia Association of Convenience Stores Convention, Board of Directors, Ponte Vedra, Florida, June 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003
  • “Update on Georgia Eminent Domain Law,” National Business Institute, Savannah, Georgia, September 2006
  • “Update on Georgia Eminent Domain Law,” Lorman Educational Service, Macon, Georgia, July 2006
  • “Business Loss Recovery in Compensable and Non-Compensable Jurisdictions,” American Law Institute – American Bar Association – Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Course of Study, San Diego, California, January 2006
  • “Kelo v. City of New London, Triumph or Tragedy,” Real Property Law Section – State Bar of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, Fall 2005
  • “Legal Issues for Georgia Civil Engineers,” Atlanta, Georgia, February 2005
  • “Taking an Eminent Domain Case to Trial,” National Business Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, September 2004
  • “Maximizing Awards in Condemnation Cases,” 26th Annual Real Property Law Institute, Amelia Island Plantation, Florida, May 2004

Bar Admissions and Memberships

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Court of Appeals of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle and Northern District of Georgia
  • All Georgia Superior and State Courts
  • All Specialty Courts of Georgia
  • State Bar of Georgia
  • Atlanta Bar Association
  • Macon Bar Association
  • American Bar Association (Member, Eminent Domain Committee, Real Estate Section)

Professional Activities

  • President, State Bar of Georgia, 2013-2014
  • Chair, Institute of Continuing Education of Georgia
  • Chair, Constitutional Law Section, State Bar of Georgia
  • State Bar of Georgia (President, 2013-2014; Treasurer, Founding Chair, Eminent Domain Section; Chair, Military Legal Assistance Program; Member, Board of Governors Executive Committee)
  • Past President, Macon Bar Association
  • Member, Emory Law School Council
  • Member, Lawyers Club of Atlanta
  • Chair, Eminent Domain Seminars, Institute of Continuing Legal Education, 2003-04
  • President, Downtown Macon Rotary Club
  • Member, Leadership USA
  • Member, Leadership Georgia
  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Fellow, Georgia Bar Foundation
  • Advisory Board, Institute for Local Government Legal Studies
  • Board of Directors, Owners’ Counsel of America, 2013-2016