The long running litigation between the Borough of Harvey Cedars and some of its oceanfront residents has finally come to an end. The borough’s counsel for these matters, Lawrence Shapiro, Esq. of Ansell Grimm & Aaron, PC successfully petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court on appeal from a jury verdict of $375,000 in favor of the Harvey and Phyllis Karan. The July 2013 decision was a departure from legal precedent that had stood for more than a century and paved the way for the state to move forward with its shore protection project.
In his opinion, writing for a unanimous court, Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin wrote, “When a public project requires the partial taking of property, ‘just compensation’ to the owner must be based on a consideration of all relevant, reasonably calculable, and non-conjectural factors that either decrease or increase the value of the remaining property. In a partial-takings case, homeowners are entitled to the fair market value of their loss, not to a windfall.”
In the aftermath of the Karan decision, another case where the jury had awarded $265,000 was retried under the legal standard. The result was a jury verdict of only $300.
In the final remaining case, the appeal of which was decided May 5, Shapiro was successful in having the property owner’s expert reports barred from presentation to a jury for using improper valuation methods. The Appellate Court recently affirmed that decision and, as a result, an agreed upon verdict of $7,500 was entered bringing the Harvey Cedars litigation to an end.
The Harvey Cedars cases were at the forefront of the State of New Jersey’s efforts to construct shore protection measures. The Karan case, which the Supreme Court agreed to hear before Superstorm Sandy struck and in which the State only intervened for argument before that Court, has resulted in a tectonic shift in how partial takings condemnation cases are valued and tried. Shapiro’s successful prosecution of that matter on behalf of the Borough means that other municipalities, the State, and Federal Government will save millions of dollars in easement acquisition and litigation costs as the shore protection project moves forward.
The Karan decision also will potentially save the state and tax payers millions of dollars in road improvement and other projects where a partial taking of property occurs and the positive benefit of the project can be quantified.
For additional information, please contact Lawrence Shapiro at (732) 922-1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.