Federal Takings

Arent Fox's Eminent Domain & Property Rights Practice

Federal Takings

Arent Fox Defends New York Landowner’s Constitutional Right to Compensation


Arent Fox Defends New York Landowner’s Constitutional Right to Compensation

On January 7, Arent Fox partner Thor Hearne argued Romanoff Equities v. United States before the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit. In this case, Mr. Hearne defended the Romanoff family’s constitutional right to be justly compensated for land the federal government took from them to construct the High Line in New York City. The High Line is now a popular public park used for taco trucks, latin dancing, and other public recreation.  

“The High Line is a wonderful public amenity enjoyed by New York City residents and visitors,” said Mr. Hearne. “But when the federal government takes privately owned land to build a public park like the High Line, our Constitution requires the federal government to compensate the Romanoff’s for their property. That is only fair.”

In this case, the Justice Department argued it does not need to pay the Romanoffs for the land the government seized and that the government can use the Romanoff’s land for any purpose it wants because of a six-word provision in a 1932 easement a prior landowner granted the New York Central Railroad. Mr. Hearne explained the government’s argument is contrary to New York law and to the actual language of the 1932 easement.  

A recording of the argument is available here.


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Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.