Federal Takings

Arent Fox's Eminent Domain & Property Rights Practice

Federal Takings

Arent Fox Files Fifth Amendment Takings Brief in Florida Supreme Court

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Arent Fox Files Fifth Amendment Takings Brief in Florida Supreme Court

Arent Fox LLP’s nationally recognized Fifth Amendment Takings & Eminent Domain litigation team filed a brief before the Florida Supreme Court in a case involving Sarasota, Florida landowners who are seeking to be justly compensated after the federal government took their land to create a public recreational corridor in 2004. In this case, Rogers v. US, Arent Fox previously secured more than $26 million in judgments on behalf of nearly 100 landowners when the US Court of Federal Claims determined in 2011 that the federal government had violated fundamental principles of property rights by taking land owned by Sarasota citizens without compensation.

Complex Litigation partner Thor Hearne filed the brief, which can be found here ( Download PDF), on behalf of 83 Florida landowners whose claims were dismissed by the trial court as the result of a technicality relating to an 1878 Florida statute. These landowners appealed the trial court’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and asked the court to refer a controlling issue of Florida law to the Florida Supreme Court.The Federal Circuit agreed, and the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction.

“Protecting the certainty of land title is essential to preserving individuals’ right to be secure in their property, including the Fifth Amendment’s protection against government takings,” said Mr. Hearne. “The government’s claim violates fundamental principles of property rights.”

The brief also expresses the views of two distinguished voices in the field of property law: former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul G. Cantero and law professor James W. Ely, Jr. Arent Fox lawyers who joined Mr. Hearne on the brief include counsel Bela G. Lugosi, associates Lindsay Brinton and Meghan S. Largent, and attorney Stephen S. Davis.

Justice Cantero served on the Florida Supreme Court between 2002 and 2008 and is now a partner at White & Case, LLP (bio available here). Professor Ely is the Milton R. Underwood Professor of Law Emeritus and Professor of History Emeritus at Vanderbilt University Law School and one of the nation’s foremost scholars in property law (curriculum vitae available here). US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts recently cited Professor Ely’s work as authority in a decision by the United States Supreme Court involving a similar issue in Brandt v. United States (click here).

Arent Fox is currently representing more than a thousand landowners in more than a dozen eminent domain cases against the federal government. Mr. Hearne has earned a national reputation for his work in complex federal and state litigation and appeals — especially in cases involving constitutional law and election issues. In addition, Mr. Hearne has written and lectured on Fifth Amendment takings at the Brigham-Kanner Annual Property Rights Conference and been on the faculty of the American Law Institute for its annual conference on eminent domain.

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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.