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February 1, 2008

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Statement on Eminent Domain Decision

Circuit Court Rules Against Homeowners, Business Owners and Tenants in Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Appeal

Plaintiffs Intend to Ask US Supreme Court to Hear Their Case

Plaintiffs Will Seek All Legal Remedies to Protect Their Homes and Businesses From Seizure by New York State

New York, NY— The Second Circuit Court today ruled against 14 homeowners, business owners and tenants in their appeal of their lawsuit alleging that New York State's use of eminent domain to take their properties for Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project violates the United States Constitution.

Plaintiffs' attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff said, "Today's decision is disappointing. We disagree with its conclusion. We intend to ask the US Supreme Court to hear our case, and will continue to pursue every avenue available to prevent the unlawful seizure of my clients' homes for Bruce Ratner's enrichment. The court today affirmed that the government is free to take private homes and businesses and give them to influential citizens as long as one can imagine a conceivable benefit to the public, no matter how small or unlikely it may be. Indeed, it does not matter if all evidence points to a secret back room deal. All corrupt politicians need do to insulate themselves from judicial scrutiny is claim a benefit to the public. This is wrong. It should trouble all citizens who, unlike Bruce Ratner, lack the power and money to coopt the government's power of eminent domain for their private use. We believe that the United States Supreme Court will welcome the opportunity to clarify this area in light of its widely criticized Kelo decision."

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn legal director Candace Carponter said, "Our support of the fight of citizens to live safely in their homes, and operate safely in their business, will continue. We maintain that the government's motivation in using eminent domain for Atlantic Yards is not to benefit the public, but rather, to benefit a single, very rich and powerful developer. The seizure of our neighbors' homes and businesses is at the very foundation of the Atlantic Yards project. It is a foundation that must not stand. Now is the time for our elected leaders, who have frequently expressed grave concern about the abuse of eminent domain, to publicly stand in defense of everyday Brooklynites and New Yorkers."

The 2nd Circuit Court's opinion on the case, Goldstein v. Pataki, can be found at: http://www.dddb.net/php/reading/legal/eminentdomain

Posted by eric at February 1, 2008 3:22 PM