Eminent Domain - Case Reports

Blankingship & Keith has handled hundreds of condemnation cases for decades. Paul Terpak has over 30 years' experience; Giff Hampshire has handled eminent domain cases for 19 years both for Prince William County and for private landowners. Kevin DeTurris has worked in the field for 10 years. The following cases illustrate some of the trials handled by the firm. Note that all jury verdicts also receive statutory interest which increases the amount paid.

VDOT v. Tysons Corner Hotel Co., LLC
Original Offer: $663,650
Reduced To: $243,000
Settlement Amount: $1.5 Million

VDOT v. Shadyac
Original Offer: $449,000
Jury Verdict: $1,011,622
This case involved the total taking of a little over an acre in Gainesville. The key ruling was the exclusion of the owners low purchase price of $250,000 as negatively influenced by the project.

Garber v. Prince William County
Original Offer: $3.3 million
Settlement: $15 million
This case involved the taking of approximately 70 acres to expand the Government Center in Prince William County. The primary issue was the nature of the uses allowed under the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Giff and Paul successfully argued for a mixed use which resulted in a much higher value.

O’Connor Family v. Loudoun County School Board
Original Offer: $4 million
Settlement: $6,468,200
This case involved the condemnation of a farm outside Leesburg for a high school site. The property had issues regarding limestone Karst, sinkholes, and an endangered species.

Franconia II, LP (Springfield Mall) v. VDOT
Original Offer: $242,300
Settlement: $508,700
The key issue was the loss of parking and the impact of the taking on a pad site at the Mall.

Mac D Associates v. Fairfax County
Original Offer: $7,830,635 for 81 acres.
Jury Verdict: $11,572,491 for only 49 acres.
In a taking from the old MacDonald farm (really) the primary issue was the highest and best use of the property. Blankingship & Keith first succeeded in reducing the size of the taking. The key ruling at trial was Paul’s success in having the County’s Comprehensive Plan thrown out of evidence because it was based in part on the road to be constructed as part of the taking in the case.

Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority v. Dominion Virginia Power
Original Offer: Zero
Settlement: $1.9 million plus a confidential amount for park improvements.
In Phase 2 of the Park Authority’s fight to keep control of the W&OD Trail, which Paul argued and won at trial and before the Virginia Supreme Court, the Park Authority sought damages for Virginia Power’s improper placement of fiber optic cables on the Trail. The valuation issue was very similar to an inverse condemnation case. After a number of hard fought motions, Paul was able to achieve a very favorable settlement.

Legend v. Virginia Power
Offer: $38,906
Settlement: $215,000 plus an unprecedented redesign of Virginia Power’s new gas line.
This very unusual case involved the proposed construction of a new gas line under an existing power line on the Cherry Hill Peninsula in Prince William County. Due to the sag of the electric lines and the topography of the pipeline, development access to over 1000 acres on the Potomac River would have been cut off by the project. Despite insisting for many months that a redesign was impossible, Paul eventually convinced Virginia Power that it either had to redesign and construct the pipeline to allow for three major divided highways, or purchase 1000 acres. The redesign has allowed KSI’s new Harbor Station Project to proceed.

Rotonda Condominium Unit Owner's Association v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County, Virginia
Original Offer: $589,900
Settlement: $1,350,000
Paul was able to negotiate a settlement of this case shortly before trial which involved a strip of the Condo Association’s common area taken for a road widening.

Fairfax County Park Authority v. McCue and McCue Limited Partnership
Original Offer: $4,750,900
Settlement: $9,525,000
The case involved the condemnation of 100 acres on the Potomac River near Occoquan. The main issues were the extreme difficulty in locating perc sites and the impact of an Indian village visited by Captain John Smith. With the right team of experts, Hugo and Paul succeeded in negotiating a settlement at nearly the landowner’s full appraised value.

Stafford County v. Crows Nest
In a role reversal, the firm was hired by the Condemnor to handle the largest condemnation in Virginia in the last 10 years (save the HGLC case at Wilson Bridge also handled by Blankingship & Keith) 3,000 acres on the Potomac River for a park. The parties original difference of value was $60 million v. $33.3 million. Giff and Paul successfully negotiated a settlement for the County to pay $38 million.

Hayfield Farms Community Association II v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County
Original Offer: $106,000
Settlement: $1,857,920
The big question in this case was how to value a homeowners association’s open space which could not be further developed due to restrictions in the zoning approvals. The County argued the land had little to no value because it was not marketable. In what appears to be a first nationwide, Paul successfully argued that the open space added value to every home in the neighborhood and that there was a market for park land and playing fields.

Board of Supervisors of Prince William County v. Horner Road, L.C.
Original Offer: $1,628,732
Jury Verdict: $4.4 million
Prince William County took 24.6 acres of the owner’s property to construct a new commuter parking lot adjoining Route 95 near Dale City. The County presented numerous experts and County personnel who testified that the property had extremely limited development potential. Hugo and Paul assembled a first-class team which succeeded in convincing the commissioners that the property had wonderful potential.

H.G.L.C. v. VDOT
Original offer: $32,609,000
Settlement: $67,400,000
VDOT took one of three high-rise apartment towers for the construction of the new Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River. Due to the large damage claim to the remaining two towers, Hugo and Paul were able to convince VDOT to purchase the remaining towers outright. The team is now fighting for the former owner to repurchase the two towers now that construction is nearly complete.

Morrow Equipment Company v. VDOT
Original offer $772,224
Settled for $1,209,949
The key issue was that the taking changed the configuration of the owner's parcel so that its modular high rise crane sections could no longer be stored as efficiently. The settlement involved the outright sale of additional land at fair market value which reduced Morrow's damages and reduced VDOT's construction costs by eliminating the need for a large retaining wall.

VEPCO v. Futura LLC 
Original Offer: $140,500
Settlement: $400,000
Using our expertise and understanding of appraisal practice, we were able to demonstrate a significant flaw in the condemnor's offer appraisal that brought into doubt whether a bona fide offer had actually made. Facing dismissal and the prospect of setting the project schedule back several months, on the eve of the early entry hearing VEPCO settled for nearly three times the initial offer. 

VEPCO v. Superior Investments LLC
Original Offer: $77,600
Settlement: $265,000
Through aggressive discovery Kevin obtained information that brough into question the public purpose of the project. Rather than risk an adverse ruling on the issue, VEPCO agreed to a settlement nearly four times the initial appraised value.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline v. Kelk 
Original Offer: $12,650 
Settlement: $75,000
In this matter ACP was seeking to widen, pave and use an existing private gravel road for to gain access to a ridgeline where the pipeline was to eventually be constructed. Kevin was able to use his experience and understanding of the project's construction plan to determine that there was an extremely heightened time sensitive need for ACP to gain access at this location. This knowledge proved critical in reaching a quick settlement in excess of six times the amount of the original offer. The resolution permitted the condemnor to keep up with the construction schedule and resulted in a very favorable monetary award to the property owner. In addition to the monetary award, we were able to negotiate a provision in the settlement agreement mandating that if the project were ever abandoned the acquired easement would revert back to the property owner with no requirement for repayment. (A condition that came to fruition when ACP abandoned the project in 2020).