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Taking Claim Goes To Trial

We just completed a trial conducted over three weeks in San Diego County against the City of Oceanside asserting that the City’s actions, vis-à-vis a mobilehome park owner over the past decade, have caused a “taking” of property. This is one of the very few “takings” cases, under the famous “Penn Central” test, that has made it to the point where a decision on the merits will be forthcoming. The Penn Central test is an “ad hoc” balancing test that requires a court to look at multiple factors and decide if a government’s actions have gone “too far” and resulted in a property owner’s property being taken for public use without compensation. This was a bifurcated trial, where the issue of whether a taking had occurred will be first decided by the judge. If the property owner wins that aspect of the trial, there will be a second phase of the trial where the economic damages will be ascertained by a jury. The property owner contends the economic damage is well in excess of $25 million.

Post-trial briefing will take another two months to complete. A decision on the merits is expected sometime during or after October, 2014. Getting to trial on Penn Central claims is very rare. The procedural impediments are such that almost all such claims are decided without a trial because of the doctrines of “ripeness” and “exhaustion of administrative remedies.”

Hart Kienle Pentecost Partner, a trial lawyer with over 30 years of trial experience, worked with the client and the panoply of experts needed to get the matter ready for trial. Of Counsel, Mark Alpert, originated the action on behalf of the client at trial. Mark has prosecuted “takings” claims on behalf of property owners for much of his career while with Hart Kienle Pentecost. We will provide you updates as this trial unfolds. Great job Jim and Mark-and good luck!