Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 2007 Litigation Updates

Our leading case is Galleon Bay v. Monroe County et al. It was tried to a jury in June 2006. The jury returned a verdict of $3 million, as the Fair Market Value on the date of trial. We moved for a new trial because of the incompetent testimony of the County's appraiser, Trent Marr, who concluded the property was only worth $500,000 as a trap storage site, while Galleon Bay's expert appraised the property at over $5.5 million. The trial judge, Chief Judge Richard Payne, granted Galleon Bay's motion for a new trial. The State and County appealed the new trial order -- lost -- and the Third DCA sent the case back for a new trial. However, Judge Payne retired and his successor, David Audlin, has shown a propensity for throwing out Judge Payne's decisions. It remains to be seen whether Galleon Bay can get a fair trial before Judge Audlin. For details, go to

Our number two case this month is Collins, et al. v. Monroe County et al., an 11-Plaintiff case that was filed in November 2004. This case was also before Judge Payne before he retired at the end of 2006. Judge Payne had entered a partial summary judgment on liability, in favor of the Collins plaintiffs, and the case was set for a jury trial in June 2007. In late May 2007, Judge Audlin summarily dismissed the Collins case. Collins is on appeal to the Third DCA in Miami, with Appellants' Initial Brief due Nov. 4.

Earlier this year we filed a class-action regulatory taking case, Lightner, et al v. Monroe County et al., for adopting confiscatory regulations on Big Pine and No Name Keys. There are about 2,000 potential class members. The case was transferred to Judge Jones in Key West. We have an agreement with the County's counsel allowing us to amend the Complaint to include a challenge to the constitutionality of the confiscatory regulations.

We have two regulatory taking cases pending against the City of Marathon, Beyer v. Marathon and McCole v. Marathon, and another one pending against the County, Sutton v. Monroe County. And we are working on Complaints in two more, Gutierrez v. Monroe County et al, and Evanoff's v. Islamorada et al.

This list does not even attempt to identify the approximately 30 landowners for whom we are trying to schedule "Beneficial Use" hearings. We almost had 23 of those hearings set for the first week in October, but they were scheduled too late and had to be postponed.

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