November 20, 2015

Florida local government loses when it tries to take family property

By Mark Miller Senior Attorney

Earlier this week, Pacific Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in favor of the Johnson family, a family in the middle of a long, nasty litigation with the Town of Ponce Inlet, Florida. The town council made many promises to entice the Johnsons into investing millions of dollars in real estate for a large development on the water, only to have that same town council turn against them and refuse to allow the development after they made their investments. A jury saw through the Town’s action and awarded millions of dollars to the Johnsons because they lost the ability to use their land after the Town pulled the rug out from under them. The Town of Ponce Inlet has appealed and our brief argues that the appeals court should affirm the jury verdict and court judgment. You can read our amicus brief here.

My PLF Atlantic Center colleague, Christina Martin, wrote about this case a few years ago. What she said about the stakes of this case, and cases like it, remains true today:

The Johnsons are not alone. Property owner across the country often find themselves in the government’s crosshairs. While the facts are not always as shocking or as personal, they are frequently just as tragic for the individuals involved.  Not only must we protect property rights to protect individual liberty, but we must also demand that our government deal fairly with individuals, rejecting the sort of lawless behavior conducted by the Town of Ponce Inlet.

We look forward to the day that the Town of Ponce Inlet pays for its wrongdoing.

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