Category: Eminent Domain/ Condemnation/ Government Taking

Patchen, Lead Plaintiff In Citrus Canker Class-Action Lawsuit–Representing Estimated 100,000 Property Owners

“For decades, Brian Patchen and his wife, Bunny, enjoyed the bounty of fruits picked from the half-dozen robust citrus trees growing on their Miami Beach property. Then, without warning, the state chopped them all down to stumps in the fall of 2000.

“On Halloween, our trees got tricked instead of treated,” Patchen, a longtime Miami attorney, testified on Monday.

Patchen is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit representing an estimated 100,000 property owners in Miami-Dade who believe they were wronged by the state. Depending on the outcome of the class trial, they could be eligible for more than $120 million in damages from the state of Florida for having cut down about 250,000 of their citrus trees at the height of the canker wars between 2000 and 2006.”

Patchen: Faculty Speaker at CLE International’s 19th Annual Eminent Domain Conference in Tampa, FL

Measuring Full Compensation Under Unique Facts_10.16.15Heather A. Patchen, Esq. of Patchen Law, P.A. recently spoke at CLE International’s 19th Annual Eminent Domain Conference held at the Sheraton Riverwalk in Tampa, Florida on October 15-16, 2015.  Addressing a group of over 100 eminent domain practitioners, appraisers, and other industry professionals, Patchen provided strategies on what to do when unique facts and circumstances affect market value, making it difficult to obtain full compensation. For a complete copy of the presentation, please click on the following link: Measuring Full Compensation Under Unique Facts & Circumstances

Based in Denver, Colorado, CLE International has been a provider of continuing professional education programs throughout the United States and Canada since 1983. Its seminars, which focus on the cutting edge of emerging legal issues of vital importance to attorneys and their clients, real estate professionals, accountants, consultants and government agencies, have received wide acclaim from bench and bar for the high quality of its faculty (all of whom are recognized experts in their fields of specialty) and its efficient organization of detailed and useful information.

Patchen Named Vice Chair of the Florida Bar Eminent Domain Committee

Heather A. Patchen has been appointed Vice Chair of the Florida Bar’s Eminent Domain Committee for 2015 -2016.  The next meeting of the Eminent Domain Committee will take place on Friday, September 18th at the Tampa Airport Marriott.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve as Vice Chair and I am 4166829565_c0e86c494clooking forward to assisting with the educational planning for our Committee meetings,” said Patchen.

The scope and function of the Eminent Domain Committee is to study and keep informed of recent developments in the field of condemnation of private property for public use by governmental agencies or private companies who have the power of eminent domain. Through quarterly meetings and a Committee newsletter, members of the Bar are kept informed of significant developments in this particular area of law.

Heather Patchen Appointed to The Florida Bar Eminent Domain Committee

799228254_14e64ef92aHeather A. Patchen has been appointed to the Florida Bar’s Eminent Domain Committee effective July 1, 2014, and until June 30, 2015.

The scope and function of the Eminent Domain Committee is to study and keep informed of recent developments in the field of condemnation of private property for public use by governmental agencies or private companies who have the power of eminent domain. It should keep the members of the Bar informed of developments of great significance in this field, maintain liaison with private companies and governmental agencies who have and use the power of eminent domain, and study and consider legislation, law or problems in the area of eminent domain law as developed by the committee or assigned by the president or the Board of Governors.

Seized property sits vacant nine years after landmark Kelo eminent domain case

Published March 20, 2014


Feb. 8, 2005: The home of Susette Kelo in the Fort Trumbull section of New London, Conn. The small house once at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on government seizure of private property was later disassembled and relocated to a site close to downtown New London. Avner Gregory, of New London, the new owner, dedicated his house on June 21, 2008, before a crowd of about 200 participants and onlookers. (AP/Jack Sauer)

The controversial Supreme Court ruling that expanded eminent domain to give government the right to take private property to allow economic development may have been all for nothing, according to a report.

Nine years after the high court sided with a Connecticut municipality in Kelo v. City of New London, a ruling Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has likened to the court’s disastrous Dred Scott decision, the 90-acre plot once earmarked for office buildings, luxury apartments and a new marina, remains vacant.

Seven residents who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep their working-class homes in the city’s Fort Trumbull section have only their memories and whatever remains of the money they were forced to accept.

“See that pole with the transformer hanging from it?” Michael Cristofaro, a 52-year-old computer network engineer, told The Weekly Standard, which recently visited the town. “That was where my family’s home was.”

In the landmark 5-4 ruling, named for the lead plaintiff, a nurse named Susette Kelo, the Supreme Court upheld a state Supreme Court ruling that the city of 27,000 and a nonprofit entity called the New London Development Corp. were entitled to seize those properties in the name of economic development. Previously, eminent domain had been seen as limited to cases involving projects deemed as benefiting the public, but not a private economic interest.

“The nationwide outrage that followed in the wake of the Kelo decision spanned from left to right and back again on the political spectrum,” The Weekly Standard noted. “It didn’t help that one of the chief beneficiaries of the NLDC’s economic development plan would have been the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc., which New London had lured into the city via an 80-percent, 10-year property-tax abatement for a $300 million research facility — an expansion of the company’s research operations in Groton, Conn., across the Thames.”

More than 40 state legislatures would later pass laws banning or restricting the use of eminent domain for economic rejuvenation, particularly if homeowners would be displaced. And at least seven states amended their constitutions to ban the use of eminent domain for economic development, with some state courts explicitly rejecting the Kelo ruling as precedent, The Weekly Standard reports.

So how does New London, specifically Fort Trumbull, look now?

“The homeowners were dispossessed for nothing,” wrote The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby. “Fort Trumbull was never redeveloped. Pfizer itself bailed out of New London in 2009. The Kelo decision was a disaster, as even the city’s present political leaders acknowledge.”

Associate Justices John Paul Stevens, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy formed the narrow majority in the landmark Supreme Court decision, with its conservative bloc dissenting.

“Today, the Court abandons [the Fifth Amendment’s] long-held, basic limitation on government power,” now-retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in her dissenting opinion. “Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded, i.e. given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public — in the process.”

The story of New London is akin to a Greek tragedy, according to The Weekly Standard, or perhaps “Eminent disaster,” as the Globe’s opinion headline reads.

“The founders put the takings clause in the Bill of Rights for a reason,” Jacoby wrote. “The desolation that is Fort Trumbull is a grim reminder that where property rights aren’t secure, neither is freedom — and without freedom, there is nothing the government can’t destroy.”

Patchen Law Attends MOCA Mystery Date 2014 at GEORGE SÁNCHEZ-CALDERÓN Studio

Heather-Patchen-700x479Patchen Law recently attended the 2014 MOCA Mystery Date Fundraiser held at the GEORGE SÁNCHEZ-CALDERÓN Studio, which is currently under threat of eminent domain.

Hosted by the Shakers, MOCA’s membership group for patrons between the ages of 21 and 45, Mystery Dates kicks off with a cocktail party featuring live music and cutting-edge contemporary art at MOCA, where guests discover the “mystery” location of their dinner. Mystery Dates sends over 450 MOCA patrons to stunning residences throughout Miami, from Aventura to Coral Gables and South Beach to the Design District. Hosts throw open their doors for Mystery Dates dinner guests in celebration of Miami’s diverse and thriving cultural scene. Attendees intimately experience how art lovers in South Florida find unique ways to incorporate culture into their lives, during a lovely evening filled with glamour, artwork and philanthropy.

“Moving Costs in Eminent Domain: A Mélange of Damages” Presented at the Florida Bar Winter Meeting

Moving Costs in Eminent DomainAt the recent Florida Bar Eminent Domain Committee meeting held in Orlando, Patchen Law, P.A., presented on the topic of “Moving Costs in Eminent Domain: A Mélange of Damages”.  The presentation provided a breakdown of leading cases related to moving costs in eminent domain, a summary of available remedies, and a discussion as to how the 2009 Florida Supreme Court decision in Systems Components Corporation v. Florida Department of Transportation attempts to change the playing field.

For a complete copy of the presentation, please click on the following link: Moving Costs in Eminent Domain.

Patchen Law’s Profile As Seen In 2014 South Florida Legal Guide; Of Counsel, Brian P. Patchen Named Top Lawyer

S.Fla.LeglGuideProfile_2014Patchen Law, P.A. proudly appears in the Professional Profiles section of the 2014 South Florida Legal Guide of Top Lawyers (on page 130). Of Counsel, Brian P. Patchen (Law Office of Brian P. Patchen, P.A.) was named to the South Florida Legal Guide’s 2014 list of Top Lawyers in two categories: Civil Litigation (page 91) and Real Estate – Eminent Domain (page 105). Mr. Patchen has been named a Top Lawyer in Real Estate – Eminent Domain in the South Florida Legal Guide consecutively since 2006. A complete electronic version of the 2014 South Florida Legal Guide can be found by clicking here.


Mr. Patchen has devoted his entire career to eminent domain, representing landowners and business owners throughout the State of Florida. He has handled hundreds of cases involving every aspect of eminent domain for over 30 years. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by The Florida Bar and is rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, admitted in New York and Michigan as well as Florida. He is past Chairman and Vice Chairman of The Florida Bar Eminent Domain Committee and has been a contributing author to to the Florida Bar’s Eminent Domain Practice and Procedure, currently the chapter on Compensation. Mr. Patchen has also lectured on eminent domain at various CLE conferences, including the conference of Florida Circuit Court Judges.

Today, Mr. Patchen continues to practice in eminent domain out of his Miami Lakes office, which he shares with his daughter Heather A. Patchen of Patchen Law, P.A. Following in her father’s footsteps, Heather focuses her practice in eminent domain and works tirelessly to ensure that her clients’ property investments are well protected. In addition to her work in eminent domain, Heather’s practice involves both litigation and transaction work in a wide array of property related matters including landlord/tenant claims, first party property claims, and serving as a Guardian Ad Litem in foreclosure proceedings, as well as conducting title closings and drafting various contracts related to property leases and purchase agreements.

Patchen Law To Speak At the Florida Bar Eminent Domain Committee Meeting

header-eminentHeather A. Patchen will speak at the upcoming Eminent Domain Committee, Florida Bar Winter Meeting this Friday, January 24, 2014. The presentation entitled, “Moving Costs in Eminent Domain: A Mélange  of Damages” will provide insight into the various overlapping remedies for damages available as a result of a taking, and will discuss the implications of the 2009 Florida Supreme Court case Systems Components Corp. v. Fla. DOT, 14 So. 3d 967 (Fla. 2009).

While attending the Florida Bar Winter Meeting, Heather will also participate in the inaugural meeting for the Senior Lawyers Committee.  The Senior Lawyers Committee shall serve the interests and needs of the profession by fostering an interchange of ideas, sharing the accumulated knowledge and experience of its members and addressing issues that are of particular significance to senior lawyers.  Heather was appointed to the Senior Lawyers Committee in November of 2013 and will serve a term until 2015.

Orlando Set To Use Eminent Domain For $85M Soccer Arena

Law360, Miami (September 16, 2013, 7:01 PM ET) — The Orlando, Fla., city council approved a resolution Monday that would authorize the use of eminent domain for two downtown parcels deemed necessary for a proposed $85 million soccer stadium if negotiations with the landowners fail.

The city council members voted to allow the initiation of eminent domain proceedings on the two parcels, which are just under two acres and are valued at about $2.8 million, if needed for the stadium project proposed by the Orlando City Soccer Club in its bid to join Major League Soccer.

“The city has acquired more than 70 percent of the project site by voluntary purchase,” the city council members said in the meeting agenda. “The city is currently in negotiations with the property owners and will continue to do so in good faith. However should negotiations fail, this resolution will authorize the initiation of eminent domain procedures to acquire the subject parcels.”

To read the complete article, click here.