Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - October 8, 2013
October 8, 2013 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #12

Eminent Domain Settlement: Ware’s Creek Storm Water Improvement Project, Parcels E-104.1 and E-104.2 (Watkins) – Fees & Costs


Contact and/or Presenter Information
Andrea A. Adibe, Assistant County Attorney / Sandi Murphy, Ext. 3750

Action Requested
FORM OF MOTION – Approval of settlement with Agnes C. Watkins, as Trustee of The Agnes C. Watkins Revocable Living Trust, dated January 12, 2000, Mary Ann Watkins, James Frederick Watkins, and William Michael Watkins, the landowners of Parcels E-104.1 and E-104.2, in the amount of $30,750 for the full settlement of reasonable and necessary expert fees and costs incurred and non-monetary attorney’s fees, in accordance with Sections 73.091 and 73.092, Florida Statutes, in the eminent domain case of Manatee County v. Agnes C. Watkins, etc., et al., Case No. 2012-CA-2656, Parcels E-104.1 and E-104.2.

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Sections 73.091 and 73.092, Florida Statutes, require the condemning authority to pay the landowner’s reasonable and necessary expert witness fees and costs and statutory attorney’s fees to the landowner’s counsel.  State Department of Transportation v. Nassau Partners, Ltd., 878 So.2d 1286 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004), holding that a cost hearing concerning the amount a condemning authority is required to pay property owner’s expert witnesses is a supplemental proceeding allowing the court to award additional attorney’s fees to the owner’s attorney.

Background Discussion

Manatee County previously acquired Parcel E 104.1, in Fee Simple, and Parcel E-104.2, Permanent Access and Maintenance Easement, from the landowners, Agnes C. Watkins, as Trustee of The Agnes C. Watkins Revocable Living Trust, dated January 12, 2000, Mary Ann Watkins, James Frederick Watkins, and William Michael Watkins, as part of the Ware’s Creek Storm Water Improvement Project by Stipulated Order of Taking dated June 28, 2012.  As a result of negotiations, the landowners agreed to settle as full compensation for the acquisition of the property in the amount of $220,000, and statutory attorney’s fees pursuant to Section 73.092, Florida Statutes, in the amount of $29,700 by Stipulated Final Judgment entered October 31, 2012.

In an eminent domain action, the County is required to pay the landowners’ reasonable and necessary fees and costs pursuant to Section 73.091, Florida Statutes.  The County received and reviewed detailed invoices from the landowners’ experts and negotiated the following settlement of all remaining fees and costs:

EQUABLE REAL ESTATE SOLUTIONS, LLC, for real estate appraisal services:  Requested Fee:  $15,996.25

D.M.A. ENGINEERING, INC., for engineering services:  Requested Fee:  $12,066.10

PEARSON PLANNING SERVICES, INC., for land planning services:  Request Fee: $4,480.00

BLUCHER LAW GROUP, LLC, for apportionment and supplemental attorney’s fees and costs:  Requested Fee:  $2,856.26

Total Fees and Costs Requested:  $35,398.61

After extensive negotiations, the County Attorney’s Office reached a settlement with the landowners’ attorney in the amount of $30,750.

Based on the foregoing, it is recommended that the Board approve the proposed settlement.  The amount in controversy could be eclipsed by the additional attorney’s fees and expert fees the County might have to pay the landowners’ attorney for a cost hearing as well as the costs incurred by the County in defending the claim.

If approved, it is requested that a check in the amount of $30,750 be issued to The Trust Account of Blucher Law Group, LLC, and mailed to Paul A. Blucher, Esq., Blucher Law Group, LLC, 7300 Delainey Court, Sarasota, Florida 34240, for proper disbursement.

Copies to:
Ron Schulhofer, Director, Public Works Department
Sia Mollanazar, P.E., Deputy Director, Engineering Services
Jeff Streitmatter, Interim Manager, Project Management Division
Walter Sowa, III, Senior Engineering Specialist, Project Management Division
Charles Bishop, PMP, Director, Property Management Department
Joaquin Servia, Manager, Property Acquisition Division

County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other
This is a County Attorney item.

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Forward one (1) approved copy of this Agenda Memo to Sandi Murphy (sandra.murphy@mymanatee.org).

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name
$30,750 / Manatee County Storm Water Capital Improvement: 465-6028801-531000/6028801-0003

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  StipFinalOrd_Fees&Costs_P104_Watkins.pdf
Attachment:  AerialMap_ParcelE104.pdf