Lowball Watch – New York

Remember the Didden case? As in Didden v. Village of Port Chester, 173 Fed. Appx. 931 (2d Cir. 2006)? Sure you do. That was the notorious case that figured in the appointment of Judge Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, that was disposed of in an unsigned opinion by a U.S. Court of Appeals panel on which she served. In a nutshell, in the court’s words

“According to Appellants, at a November 2003 negotiation session with¬† Defendants-Appellees G&S and Wasser, Wasser demanded $ 800,000 from them in order to avert a condemnation proceeding of their property within the redevelopment district, and offered to allow them to proceed if Defendants-Appellees were given a partnership interest in the project. Appellants refused both demands and, two days later, they received a petition seeking to condemn their property. On appeal, Appellants advance constitutional claims based on the Fifthand Fourteenth Amendments asserting, inter alia, that they have a right “not to have their property taken by the State through the power of eminent domain for a
private use, regardless of whether just compensation is given.”

The court ignored the extortionate nature of these events and ruled against Didden on limitations grounds, holding that he should have sued earlier. The court did not explain how Didden was supposed to know about the extortionate offer before it was made. The court also upheld the taking on the authority of Kelo. So much for history.

We now learn that the case eventually went to a valuation trial with the following results. Condemnor’s offer – ¬†$975,000; condemnor’s appraisal – $1,045,000; court award – $3,062,000. That comes to over three times the offer.