Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monroe County Commission Warned State Loss in Condemnation Blight Cases Poses Major $$ Problem

On the Monroe County Commission's agenda for December 17, 2008, is a request from the County Attorney's office for permission to file an amicus curiae brief in the State's appeal of the $6.9 million (plus costs, post-judgment interest at 11%, and attorneys fees) West & Richardson Condemnation Blight judgments. To quote from the request:
On April 9, 2008 - prior to the jury trial on compensation - the trial court entered an "Order Granting Defendants' Motion In Limine on the Issue of Condemnation Blight." The property owners contended that precondemnation actions of the State and County blighted the property by preventing all, or substantially all, beneficial use of the property. The Order prohibited the parties from presenting any evidence regarding the effect of any County or State regulation promulgated, enacted or amended after February 8, 1982. The Order required that the jury be instructed to determine the Fair Market Value of each parcel as of the de jure takings in Spring 2004, according to the highest and best uses they would have had on February 8, 1982.
On October 8, 2008, the trial court entered final judgments awarding just compensation totaling $6,877,257 (plus costs and attorneys' fees). On October 30, 2008, the State of Florida filed Notices of Appeal of the two final judgments. This matter is of great importance to the County because the appellate court's decision will potentially set precedent applicable to the inverse condemnation actions currently pending against the County. In some of those actions, plaintiffs have similarly asserted theories of condemnation blight. The acceptance or rejection of those theories will impact how property is valued for purposes of determining just compensation awards, and either increase or decrease the County's liability exposure.
Other than having an incorrect date for the Condemnation Blight Order (it was April 9, 2007, not 2008), and omitting the fact that the judgments are earning 11% interest per year, we agree that the County could be in deep trouble here -- but so is the State.

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