Eminent Domain In The Spotlight

With the recent multi-million dollar settlement over a Connecticut town's abuse of eminent domain, the land acquisition practice is facing increasing scrutiny nationwide.

"The recent $12.4 million jury verdict against the Town of Branford for eminent-domain abuse signals the public's heightened sensitivity to the issue, said lawyers for both sides in the case."

"The September verdict, which the town is expected to appeal, should serve as a warning to municipalities trying to appropriate privately owned land without a legitimate public purpose. It can be 'a high-risk proposition,' said Timothy S. Hollister, a lawyer for the development company and landowners who sued the town in Superior Court in Waterbury."

"Numerous polls around the country have shown widespread concern about the potential for abuse of eminent domain, "and how profound the costs are for the people who are put through that," said Dana Berliner, a senior lawyer for the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit libertarian law firm based in Arlington, Va., which represented the New London homeowners in their appeal."

"Lawyers in the Branford case found that nearly everyone questioned during jury selection had at least a vague notion of what the Kelo case was about. For most, the lasting impression was that eminent domain 'could be a bad thing,' said James W. Bergenn, another lawyer for the developer."

Full Story: Judging Eminent Domain

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