Monday, December 7, 2009

Is the State Conceding its "Condemnation Blight" Battle in the Florida Keys?

Last Wednesday, December 2, 2009, the Third District Court of Appeal denied the State of Florida's Motions for Rehearing & Conflict Certification in the "condemnation blight" case, Florida DEP v. West, et al. (original opinion affirming trial court), Case No. 3D08-3185. Two days later, on December 4, 2009, the State's trial/appellate counsel asked us to pick a date in January for the State to write the checks in this case.

This suggests the State decided not to seek discretionary review from the Florida Supreme Court -- a wiser decision than their last one in Collins v. Monroe County & the State of Florida. But, in Collins, the State and County did not face the prospect of incurring almost $2,000 per day in interest costs, so they could waste the landowners' time and money at will.

For those considering a "condemnation blight" attack on value-reducing land development regulations, consider the following. The State deposited $550,000 for Parcel 1 and $80,000 for Parcel 7, as its "good faith" fair market value estimates, in April 2004. The 2008 jury verdicts were $5,060,000 (Parcel 1) and $450,000 (Parcel 7) -- based on the April 2004 real estate market. These verdicts were 9.2 times (820% over) and 5.625 times (462.5% over) the 2004 "good-faith" estimates.

The October 8, 2008, judgments included interest from 2004, bringing the just compensation values to $6,908,114 and $599,142, respectively, or $7,507,256. Presuming the case can be resolved by January 15, 2010, the State's appeal will add $682,398 in additional interest to the landowners' awards -- bringing their compensation up to $8,189,654, or 13 times the State's 2004 "good-faith" estimates (or, if you like your numbers inverted, the good-faith estimates were only 7.7% of the condemnation award, with interest).