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Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - October 10, 2017
October 10, 2017 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #16


Subject
Manatee County v. El Rancho Village, Inc, et al.; 44th Avenue East; eminent domain; Parcel 731

Briefings
All

Contact and/or Presenter Information
Pamela J. D’Agostino, Assistant County Attorney
Ext. 3750


Action Requested
Consideration and rejection of the settlement offer of $120,000 from Defendant, El Rancho Village, Inc., as it pertains to El Rancho's attorney's fee claim for non-monetary benefits obtained for Parcel 731, in the eminent domain matter Manatee County v. El Rancho Village, Inc., et al, Case No. 2011 CA 2445.


Enabling/Regulating Authority
Section 73.092(1)(b), Florida Statutes.


Background Discussion
Manatee County previously acquired Parcel 731, a temporary construction easement, as part of the road improvement to 44th Avenue East (US 41/1st Street East to 15th Street East) by Order of Taking on July 7, 2011.

The landowner agreed to accept as full compensation the amount of $12,500.  Accordingly, the landowner’s attorney was, pursuant to Section 73.092(1)(c), entitled to an attorney’s fee award of $4,092 for the benefits achieved for the landowner.  These terms were memorialized in the Stipulated Final Judgment which was entered and approved by the Court in October of 2015.  In entering the Stipulated Final Judgment, the Court reserved jurisdiction to (1) make a determination of reasonable expert fees and costs due and owing to the landowner and (2) consider whether a nonmonetary benefit had been obtained for the landowner through the efforts of its attorney in accordance with Section 73.092(1)(b).  

In August of 2015, the landowner’s attorney filed a motion to recover $19,461.25 in expert appraisal witness fees and costs and $57,268.75 in expert engineering witness fees and costs.

In April of 2016, the landowner’s appraiser agreed to accept $16,542 in full settlement of reasonable and necessary expert appraisal witness fees and costs and a Stipulated Final Order was entered as to same.

When efforts to negotiate a settlement amount with the landowner’s engineering expert witness failed, a hearing was held for the Court to determine the reasonable and necessary expert witness fees and costs that the landowner’s engineer was entitled to receive.  In May of 2017, the Court issued an order awarding the landowner’s engineering expert witness $32,513.75.

In May of 2017, the landowner’s attorney filed two (2) motions.  The first sought supplemental attorney’s fees for litigating the matter of the engineer’s expert witness fees and costs.  The second sought attorney’s fees for the nonmonetary benefits obtained for the landowner.  

In August of 2017, the County Attorney’s Office negotiated a resolution with the landowner’s attorney as to the first motion.  That same month, the Board approved that negotiated settlement of $62,250 and a Stipulated Final Order was entered as to same.

In September of 2017, the County Attorney’s Office negotiated with the landowner’s attorney in an effort to resolve the second motion.  The landowner’s attorney is willing to accept $120,000 in full settlement of their claim for non-monetary benefit attorney’s fees.  

If the Board accepts this offer, all outstanding issues with this case will be concluded and no further litigation will take place.

If the Board rejects this offer, at least one and possibly two additional hearings will have to be held.  At those hearings the Court will first determine whether the landowner’s attorney is entitled to any nonmonetary benefit attorney’s fee.  If the Court determines that the landowner’s attorney is entitled to such a fee award, then the Court must determine the amount of the fee award.  The County will ultimately be responsible for paying the reasonable fees and costs of the landowner’s attorney to litigate the issue of the attorney’s entitlement to a fee.  The County will not, however, be responsible for paying the landowner’s attorney’s fees and costs for litigating the issue of the amount of the award.  

Based on the foregoing, and since it is the judgment of the County Attorney's Office that the non-monetary benefits claim is without merit, it is recommended that the Board reject the offer of $120,000.


County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other
This is a County Attorney item.

Reviewing Attorney
D'Agostino

Instructions to Board Records
E-mail an approved copy of this agenda item to:
Pamela J. D’Agostino, Assistant County Attorney, pamela.dagostino@mymantee.org; and Alicia M. Stull, Paralegal, alicia.stull@mymantee.org


Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name
N/A

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs
N/A


Attachment:  Motion to Tax Non-Monetary Benefit Attorney's Fees.pdf
Attachment:  El Rancho Offer.pdf