Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vinson & Elkins Files Amicus Brief in Support of Petitioners in Willets Point Condemnation Lawsuit in the New York Appellate Division, Second Dept

January 26, 2012 — Vinson & Elkins has filed an Amicus brief in support of the petitioners in Serrone v. City of New York, a lawsuit challenging the City of New York’s planned redevelopment of the Willets Point area in Queens, New York.

The petitioners in Serrone, a group of Willets Point businesses and landowners, challenged the City’s redevelopment on a number of grounds, including compliance with New York environmental laws and the city’s planned use of eminent domain to take private property. The case implicates important questions about the protection of private property rights under the United States and New York constitutions, including whether there is a judicially-enforceable limit on the government’s exercise of eminent domain in cases where the government alleges that a property is “blighted” or of sub-standard condition.

Vinson & Elkins partner David Hawkins and associate Jeremy Marwell, together with co-counsel John S. Marwell of Shamberg Marwell & Hollis PC, filed the brief on behalf of the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information and education about the right to own and use private property. The brief argued that the proposed taking is unconstitutional and that courts must retain an important role in articulating and policing constitutional boundaries on the government’s use of eminent domain.

Vinson & Elkins’ Condemnation and Land Use litigation group is dedicated to condemnation and land use trial and appellate work. V&E’s condemnation lawyers have significant experience litigating against federal, state, county, and local governments as well as private corporations that have been legislatively delegated the power of eminent domain. Our representation includes properties of all sizes, shapes, and uses including residential, commercial, industrial, ranch, and special purpose properties (schools and churches), as well as vacant land.

Vinson & Elkins LLP is an international law firm with approximately 760 lawyers across 15 offices worldwide. For more information, please contact Susan Peters at