Lowball Watch – New York

This may well be the all time champion recovery in an eminent domain case. If any of our readers know of bigger awards, please let us know.

The case is Collegiate Church et al. v. Metropolitan Transit Authority, 2011 NY Slip Op 05986, Appellate Division, July 21, 2011.

It’s probably best if we just recite the figures:

As to defendant-owner Collegiate Church: MTA’s evidence – $74,450,000. The trial court award – $106,510,521.

As to defendant-owner Riese: MTA’s original offer – $15,800,000, later increased, first to $24,400,000, and then to $26,000,000. MTA’s evidence at trial – $27,440,000. The trial court award – $35,630,000.

The court also awarded interest at 9% on the difference between the MTA’s deposits into court and the award.

The trial court judgment was affirmed with directions that the trial court conduct a hearing and award attorneys fees. Stay tuned on that one.

The bone of contention that accounts for the large difference between the valuation contentions of the parties had to do with probability of joinder. But MTA had an uphill fight on that issue because the owners were already in the process of effecting the joinder so it must have been hard for MTA to argue that the joinder was not probable.

One interesting touch: one of the parcels had an old church on it, which the owners (The Ministers, Elders, and Deacons of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of New York) originally acquired in the year 1720 A.D.

Another interesting touch is the identity and history of the law firm that represented the owners. Goldstein, Rikon & Rikon is without a doubt the best law firm devoted to eminent domain in New York. It was founded in 1923 as Samuel Goldstein & Sons. Its founder, Mr. Samuel Goldstein, lived to a ripe old age and tried his last eminent domain  case at the age of 94. He won.