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Knick Overrules Williamson County: What Does It Mean for Eminent Domain?

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 91 minutes
Recorded Date: August 08, 2019
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  • Knick v. Township of Scott Pennsylvania, et al.
  • 11th Amendment
  • Injunctive Relief
  • Payment in Advance is NOT required
  • The Role of the Federal Court
  • Practical Consequences
  • State Courts v. Federal Court
  • The Chilling Effect on Local Governments
  • Conclusion
  • Q & A
Runtime: 1 hour and 31 minutes
Recorded: August 8, 2019


Since 1985, the Supreme Court’s Williamson County state-litigation requirement doctrine has been interpreted so as to make it almost impossible for local land use determinations to be challenged as regulatory takings in federal court. But, on June 21, 2019, in the case of Knick v. Township of Scott (17-647), the Supreme Court overturned (5-4) the Williamson state-litigation requirement, and held that property owners can now bypass state proceedings and immediately contest local zoning and similar constraints in U.S. district court. This drastic change in approach breathes new life into the Fifth Amendment’s ban on government takings of private property and will have wide-ranging impact. Indeed, it may result in injunctions against localities and monetary damages against public officials. More broadly, it readjusts the balance between private property rights and the government’s police power.

This program is airing live from the ABA's Annual Meeting - join us for this unique event and hear all about this new development from our panel of lawyers intimately involved in Knick.

This program was recorded on August 8th, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Paul F. Utrecht

Utrecht & Lenvin, LLP

Paul F. Utrecht has been representing clients in disputes since 1985 and has emphasized real estate litigation since 1993. His practice includes resolving disputes in most substantive areas of real estate law, from those arising out of the landlord-tenant relationship to failures to disclose material facts in transactions to boundary disputes to those involving land use issues.

He has represented a broad spectrum of property owners from the owner of a single-family home to institutional owners with many properties, both commercial and residential. He has represented clients before local administrative agencies as well as those with cases in both state and federal trial courts, and appellate matters requiring representation in California Appellate Courts, and the California and United States Supreme Courts (such as San Remo Hotel, L.P. v. City and County of San Francisco, 545 U.S. 323 (2005).

Mr. Utrecht recognizes that the fundamental economics of real estate must be considered in crafting a litigation strategy and therefore does not lose sight of a client’s ultimate goals. His extensive experience in dispute resolution enable him to represent clients who need a rapid resolution in an arbitration proceeding or prosecute litigation for those for whom such proceedings are required. Mr. Utrecht is also uniquely qualified to aggressively advocate his client’s position throughout the legal appellate process.

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Teresa Ficken Sachs

Marshal Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C.

Teresa Ficken Sachs serves as the co-chair of the firm’s Appellate Advocacy and Post-Trial Practice Group. In her capacity as an appellate attorney, Terry has developed significant experience representing all manner of insureds, self-insureds and insurance carriers. With 34 years of experience as a civil litigator, including 20 as a trial attorney, Terry has the understanding and the ability to work closely with trial counsel, prior to and during trial, to ensure that all potential appellate issues are preserved.

Terry has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, regularly appears before all levels of the Pennsylvania state and federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts, and has also argued before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Terry is experienced in product liability matters, in a broad range of issues involving the defense of health care systems and physicians (enhanced by her background as a trained pharmacist), and in insurance coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage disputes for a number of large insurance carriers.

Frequently, Terry is asked to make presentations and author articles on insurance-related topics, as well as appellate practices. She has often been asked to represent insurance industry groups, as amici curiae, before the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme Courts. Terry has been among the top five percent of lawyers chosen by her peers in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers as published by American Lawyer Media and Philadelphia Magazine. In 2013, she chaired the Bar Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention.

Dedicated to community service, Terry currently serves as a board member, Vice President and Registrar for the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club. As well, she is a board member of the Twin Lakes Conservancy.

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Nicole U. Rinke

Deputy Attorney General
California Attorney General's Office

Nicole U. Rinke is a Deputy Attorney General with the Land Law Section of the California Attorney General’s Office in Sacramento. In that capacity, Mr. Rinke serves as in-house counsel for several state agencies, represents state agencies in litigation, and represents the Attorney General in his independent capacity as it relates to various matters, including affordable housing, wildfire risks, and environmental protection at Lake Tahoe. Ms. Rinke has authored multistate amicus briefs in two cases involving the Takings clause of the Fifth Amendment before the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Rinke formerly worked as General Counsel for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and prior to that maintained a public interest practice representing communities impacted by mining in Nevada. In 2014, Ms. Rinke presented at the 33rd Annual Real Property Law Retreat for the State Bar of California regarding Regional Planning in Tahoe.

Ms. Rinke is a member of the Nevada and California bars and is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Central Districts of California, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

Ms. Rinke earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and received her B.S., summa cum laude, with a major in history and dual minors in economics and environmental humanities from Frostburg State University in Maryland. 

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Brian T. Hodges

Senior Attorneys
Pacific Legal Foundation

Brian Hodges is a Senior Attorney at PLF’s Pacific Northwest office in Bellevue, Washington. Brian focuses his practice on defending of the right of individuals to make reasonable use of their property, free of unnecessary and oppressive regulations.

In 2013, Brian second-chaired Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case that placed constitutional limits on the government’s common practice of demanding that landowners fund unrelated public projects in exchange for a permit approval. And in the 2008 case, Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights v. Sims, Brian successfully challenged a Seattle-area ordinance that required all rural property owners to dedicate at least half their land as conservation areas as a mandatory condition of any new development without any showing that rural development would impact the environment.

Brian graduated from Seattle University of Law in 2001 with honors. After which, he served as a judicial clerk at the Washington State Court of Appeals, then entered private practice where he focused on appellate advocacy for several years before joining PLF in 2006.

Brian came to the liberty movement by an uncommon route: the arts. Brian played guitar and keyboards in several Seattle-area bands before eventually studying music composition and literature at the University of Washington—earning two Bachelor’s Degrees and a Master of Arts. Through that experience, he came to firmly believe that the goal of art—indeed, the goal of any creative ambition—is to maximize individual freedom and expression, tempered by personal responsibility and ownership, rather than outside oversight or arbitrary restriction. Carrying that philosophy into law school naturally led him to fight for individual rights.

Brian regularly publishes articles and lectures on property rights at law schools and legal conferences. He continues to write music and short fiction.

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Steven J. Eagle

Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law

With his work in regulatory takings and other aspects of property law, Professor of Law Steven J. Eagle plays an important role in the ongoing dialogue among American legal scholars, lawyers, and judges on the proper interpretation of property rights in the Constitution. He is the author of a leading property treatise and scholarly and popular articles, and teaches in programs for judges and the practicing bar. Professor Eagle came to George Mason in 1987 and also has taught at the law schools of Vanderbilt University, the University of Toledo, and Pace University. He earned his B.B.A. from the City College of New York (1965) and his J.D. from Yale Law School (1970).

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