The Roanoke Times brings a story from Virginia, about a farmer’s successful lawsuit in inverse condemnation. Laurence Hammack, Wythe County Farmer Wins Case Against VDOT, Roanoke Times, July 21, 2011. A local judge found that the State’s reconstruction of an Interstate highway bridge over the subject property impaired access to it and increased storm runoff which eroded ditches on the subject land. This, ruled the judge, effected a taking of the farmer’s property, and resulted in monetary liability, although the amount of compensation is yet to be determined by a jury. So far, it’s one of those “dog bites man” stories — unremarkable. But read on.
We also learn from this story is that over the years the farmer has been subjected to ten — count, ’em, ten — eminent domain takings of land from his farm for an Interstate, a high bridge looming over the farmhouse, as well as elecrical lines and gas pipelines.
In our book, this must be a record that earns the unfortunate farmer the “Lucky Pierre” award. In our 40 years of practicing eminent domain law, we have never seen or heard of anything like this. Two or three condemnations per lifetime has been about it. But ten?
We can only hope that the Virginia DOT folks will have the good sense to settle this case, quicly and generously. If anybody deserves that it’s the farmer, Mr. Ed Jennings.
You can read the whole Roanoke Times article by clicking here.