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Eminent Domain

Representation of governmental entities in eminent domain litigation

The experience of the Vose Law Firm attorneys includes over four decades of varied and complex eminent domain work on behalf of local governments. 

The Vose Law Firm’s eminent domain experience includes the full range of eminent domain practice including:

  • initial pre-litigation advice
  • review and consultations regarding construction plans
  • title review and effect of title issues on takings
  • drafting of resolutions
  • engineering, environmental and storm water permitting
  • pre-litigation offers
  • statutory compliance
  • relocation and tenant assistance
  • compliance with HUD Uniform Relocation Act requirements
  • preparation of all pleadings
  • all aspects of discovery – depositions, requests for production, interrogatories, requests for admissions, etc.
  • offers of judgment
  • oversight of consultants – engineers, appraisers, environmental scientists
  • appraisal review and critiquing
  • numerous contested as well as uncontested Order of Taking hearings
  • settlement negotiations
  • drafting of settlement documents
  • RESPA compliance
  • mediations
  • preparation of witnesses for trials and contested hearings
  • jury trials
  • costs and fees hearings
  • appeals

In addition, the firm has broad experience dealing with issues of:

  • public use
  • incidental private use
  • necessity
  • alternative valuation methods
  • inverse condemnation
  • loss of access
  • business damages
  • damages to personal property
  • proximity damages
  • partial takings
  • severance damages
  • incidental damages
  • land use and zoning
  • loss of parking
  • loss of retention/drainage facilities
  • damages to non-profit entities
  • historically significant properties
  • properties with future planned development activities
  • cost to cure
  • tax implications of takings and proper documentation
  • consolidation of parcels
  • potential for future rezoning
  • engineering, environmental and storm water permitting
  • mitigation of damages by allowing condemnee access to stormwater ponds, entrance roads, etc.
  • claims by public and private utilities
  • statutory restrictions on takings
  • down-zoning
  • allowable costs
  • attorney’s fees

As both an Assistant City Attorney for Orlando and as Special Counsel to the City of Orlando, Becky Vose represented the City of Orlando for over 15 years in eminent domain litigation. During that time, she represented the City as to numerous acquisitions including rights-of-way, pedestrian walkways, sites for public buildings, park lands, land for parking areas and parking garages, easements for sewage transmission lines, sites for public utility facilities, as well as many other public use projects.

As Special Counsel to the City of Orlando, Ms. Vose handled on a contract basis the acquisition of the property for the Gertrude Walk pedestrian walkway through downtown Orlando as well as the City of Orlando Arena property, (Phases II and III). The Gertrude Walk taking resulted in a two week jury trial with a jury verdict very favorable to the City of Orlando. The Arena property eminent domain case resulted in a hard fought, contested, three-day order of taking hearing which was won by the City of Orlando, represented by Ms. Vose. Over the years, Ms. Vose also represented the cities of Deltona, St. Cloud, Winter Garden, Edgewood, Longwood, Eagle Lake, and Windermere, in numerous eminent domain matters. In addition, she has extensive experience as counsel to property owners of condemned land, and has acted as a certified circuit court mediator in over 100 eminent domain mediations.

One of the most important services a city attorney can provide is to act proactively to resolve pending claims, and prevent future claims against a governmental client. There are a myriad of ways to accomplish these dual goals, and the attorneys of the Vose Law Firm are skilled in achieving excellent results for their clients, and in keeping their clients out of unnecessary litigation.

A recent example is the Manji v. City of Deltona case. Approximately two years ago, when Becky Vose became the city attorney of Deltona, (a city with a population of over 85,000), she inherited several lawsuits. One of those cases was the Manji case which was an inverse condemnation action in which there was a claim of damages against the city in excess of $1 Million. The case had been pending for seven years, and four different attorneys had worked on it for the city, but there had been little progress on the case during that time. 

After thoroughly reviewing the case, and talking with the City Manager, Becky Vose recommended noticing the case for trial, and at the same time making an offer of judgment of $50,000. This was approved by the City Commission. The offer of judgment was declined by the plaintiffs and Becky Vose tried the case in a two-day bench trial. The city won the case, and the court found that the city had no liability whatsoever. (To see a copy of the final judgment, in favor of the City of Deltona, click here.) Becky Vose then filed a motion to assess fees and costs against the plaintiffs based on the offer of judgment, and at mediation of that motion, the plaintiffs agreed to pay the City of Deltona $100,000.

Vose Law Firm attorney, Al H. Schwarz represented a county with an extremely active road improvement, land acquisition and condemnation philosophy as an Assistant County Attorney for Eminent Domain in Seminole County. In this role, he successfully represented the County in numerous order of taking hearings, jury trials, depositions, negotiations, mediations, and settlements regarding properties with values exceeding a million dollars. Mr. Schwarz was also named as an interim acquisition coordinator which required his oversight of multiple outside consultants, including engineers and environmental scientists. He was extremely involved in the pre-acquisition phase of right-of-way projects which involved the review of construction plans and meeting with County acquisition staff and engineering teams. Mr. Schwarz has participated in the research and review of property appraisals, land use and zoning issues, real and personal property title concerns, as well as engineering, environmental and storm water permitting issues. In addition to his experience with the County, Mr. Schwarz has represented property owners in property tax valuation negotiations and hearings throughout the United States and has used that knowledge to expertly defend property values in eminent domain valuation disputes.