Federal Takings

Arent Fox's Eminent Domain & Property Rights Practice

Federal Takings

Debra Albin-Riley

Debra Albin-Riley, Partner at Arent Fox
Debra Albin-Riley
Los Angeles, CA

Debra Albin-Riley is a partner in Arent Fox’s litigation department. Her significant experience before judges, juries, and other decision makers allows her to take matters to trial or skillfully negotiate positive resolutions for her clients prior to trial. Debra’s practice focuses on complex multiparty litigation, including complicated eminent domain, Fifth Amendment takings cases, and real estate valuation. Debra has tried numerous cases in California and other jurisdictions throughout the country, including state and federal courts in Texas and Illinois, the United States Court of Claims, and the US Tax Court.

Debra recently published an article in The Daily Journal entitled “High court backs landowners in abandoned railway dispute,” which highlights key aspects of the United States Supreme Court decision in favor of landowners in a pivotal Fifth Amendment property rights case that will allow thousands of people to maintain ownership of millions of acres of land across the country.

Client Work

Debra represents landowners across the country and has tried a number of cases in the United States Court of Federal Claims involving land valuation arising from Fifth Amendment takings claims arising out of the federal government’s conversion of property under the National Trails System Act. Through judgments after trial and pre-trial settlements, she has secured multi-million dollar awards for her clients. She recently scored a significant victory in a case she tried in Tampa, Florida before the US Tax Court. The Court ruled in favor of Debra’s client in a challenge by the Internal Revenue Service to the valuation of a conservation easement involving a significant parcel of land in Sarasota, Florida.

Debra devotes a significant portion of her practice to working with experts in Fifth Amendment takings and eminent domain cases. She has prepared numerous experts for deposition and trial testimony, including appraisers, land planning professionals and former government officials.

Previous Work

Prior to joining Arent Fox, Debra was a partner in the Los Angeles office of a large international law firm, where she served as a key member of several national trial teams.

Professional Activities

Debra is the past chair of the Litigation Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She also served on the board of governors of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers.

Publications, Presentations and Recognitions

Debra has been rated among the “Top Women Lawyers” in California by The Daily Journal as a result of her impressive track record of success before judges, juries, and administrative hearing officers. Debra was also listed as one of Lawdragon’s Magazine’s “Top 500 Leading Litigation Lawyers.” She has been named as a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine every year since 2004 and is rated “AV Preeminent” by Martindale Hubbell.

Debra is a frequent lecturer and commentator for the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the media. She lectures on trial strategy at Loyola Law School and Pepperdine University School of Law.

Life Beyond the Law

Debra serves on the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and chairs the Foundation’s governance committee.


Blog Posts by Debra Albin-Riley

Press Release, Florida
Arent Fox Wins $7.4 Million Eminent Domain Decision in Florida

Earlier this year, Arent Fox LLP secured a $7.4 million decision on behalf of Florida landowners in a Fifth Amendment “takings” case against the federal government when the US Court of Federal Claims ruled in Rogers v. United States that the property owners “are entitled to just compensation under the Fifth Amendment.”

Partner Thor Hearne led a team from Arent Fox that represented almost 50 Florida landowners who had their property taken under the National Trails System Act to create the Sarasota County Legacy Trail. Partner Debra Albin-Riley and associates Lindsay Brinton and Meghan S. Largent provided counsel on the case.

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Press Release
Arent Fox Wins Tax Court Decision in Closely Watched Charitable Contribution Case

On May 6, 2014, the United States Tax Court ruled in favor of the taxpayer and rejected the Internal Revenue Service’s effort to impose penalties on noted philanthropists Hugh and Liza Culverhouse. Complex Litigation partner Thor Hearne represented the Culverhouse family and Palmer Ranch Holdings Ltd. in one of the largest conservation easement deduction cases in the nation, leading a team that included partner Debra Albin-Riley and associate Meghan S. Largent. A link to the decision can be found here.

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Media Mention, US Supreme Court
Supreme Court Backs Landowners in Abandoned Railway Dispute

In March, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the landowner in a pivotal Fifth Amendment property rights case that will allow thousands of people to maintain ownership of millions of acres of land across the country. By an 8-1 vote in Brandt v. United States, the Court preserved the certainty and predictability in land titles and upheld one of the fundamental policies of the country’s property law system.

Arent Fox filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of several interested parties and Complex Litigation partner Debra Albin-Riley recently published an article in The Daily Journal that highlights key aspects of the decision.

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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.