Rails-to-Trails Attorneys Win Significant Victory for Atlanta Homeowners

On February 1, 2022, Judge Zachary N. Somers of the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. ruled that a group of 32 landowners, represented by Lewis Rice attorneys Lindsay S. C. Brinton and Meghan S. Largent, will receive compensation from the federal government for large portions of their backyards that were seized for the construction of the BeltLine Trail, a public recreational hiking and biking trail. Somers’ latest decision comes exactly one year after he held that the landowners could proceed with their lawsuit against the federal government on February 1, 2021.

Prior to filing their claim for compensation in federal court in 2017, these landowners were sued by the BeltLine 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. Now, they have vindicated in federal court, proving their property belonged to them and was taken in violation of the Fifth Amendment.



To read more about the BeltLine Trail and this case, 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.