Lewis Rice Wins Significant Victory for Atlanta Landowners Impacted by the Belt Line Rail-Trail

On February 1, 2021, Judge Zachary N. Somers of the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington D.C. ruled that a group of fourteen Atlanta landowners could proceed with their lawsuit against the federal government. These fourteen neighbors, represented by Meghan S. Largent, Lindsay S. C. Brinton, and Michael Armstrong of Lewis Rice, filed a claim for compensation in the United States Court of Federal Claims for the significant portions of their backyards that have been converted from an abandoned railroad easement to an urban public recreational hiking and biking path. 

Prior to filing their claim for compensation in federal court, these owners were sued by the Atlanta Belt Line to remove various encroachments on the right-of-way, including fences, garages, gardens, and a basketball court. The owners lost their state case and, as a result, were forced to remove these improvements from the land and were prohibited from any further use of their property within the former railroad easement. 

The federal government, represented by the United States Department of Justice, argued that these landowners’ lawsuit seeking compensation under the Fifth Amendment should be dismissed because they were not successful in defending themselves in the lawsuit brought against them by the Belt Line in state court. Judge Somers disagreed, stating that the landowners’ case may proceed and noting, “The proper course, if the government finds this result ‘absurd’ . . . is to work with Congress to change the full faith and credit statute, not to file a motion urging this Court to ignore federal law and binding precedent interpreting that law.”

Largent stated, “These landowners are relieved that they can finally move forward with their claims. The Belt Line may ultimately be a successful urban recreational trail, but it has come at significant cost to these landowners who will be hosting it in their backyards.”

To read the opinion, click under "Resources" below.

Lewis Rice's federal takings attorneys represent landowners throughout the United States pursuing takings claims against the federal government. One primary focus of the group is representing landowners in what is commonly referred to as rails to trails takings. Attorneys in this group litigate cases in the United States Court of Federal Claims on behalf of those whose property was taken by the federal government pursuant to the National Trails System Act, which authorizes abandoned railroad lines to be converted to public parks. The goal is to obtain compensation from the government for the taking of their land for the public recreational trail. 

Resources

Firm Highlights
News

Michael D. Mulligan Publishes Article in ACTEC Law Journal Comparing Sales to an Intentionally Defective Irrevocable Trust and a to Beneficiary Intentionally Defective Irrevocable Trust

More
Client Alert

Missouri Now Requires Employers to Provide Leave and Accommodations for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence

More
News

61 Lewis Rice Attorneys Named Best Lawyers for 2022, 16 Named Ones to Watch

More
Client Alert

FTC Adds Teeth to the ‘Made in USA’ Rule

More
News

Michael R. Thiessen Recognized as Pro Bono Spotlight by KCMBF for August

More
News

Lauren R. Carey Creates New Blog for Social Media Influencers

More
News

Lewis Rice Recognized as Top M&A Firm by BTI Consulting Group

More
News

Lewis Rice Wins $1.5 Million in Compensation for Covington Landowners

More
News

Neal F. Perryman Named to Missouri’s POWER List in Employment Law by Missouri Lawyers Media

More
Client Alert

Supreme Court Limits Ability to Compel Access to Private Property Without Compensation

More
Client Alert

First-Issued Interim Final Rule Gives Guidance on No Surprises Act

More
News

Brian P. Pezza Quoted in SHRM Articles on Employee Vaccination Status Disclosure and Employer Vaccination Policies

More
Client Alert

FTC Reverses Course on Treatment of Debt Payoff Under HSR Act

More
News

John C. Bodnar Named BTI M&A Client Service All-Star

More
Client Alert

Property Owners Can Push the Issue Under Illinois Mechanic’s Lien Law

More
News

David W. Sweeney Represents Advantes Group in $7.2 Million Apartment Project

More
Diversity & Inclusion

Golf Foundation of Missouri Awards First Larry L. Deskins, Sr. Scholarship

More
News

Claims Filed for Compensation in North Carolina Ecusta Trail Rail-to-Trail Case

More
Client Alert

OSHA’s New Guidance Regarding Indoor Mask Wearing, COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates, Regular Testing of Unvaccinated Workers, and More

More
News

Four Lewis Rice Attorneys Named 2022 “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers

More