Impressive results are derived from three critical stages of our process. First, we listen and learn. It seems simple, but a checklist often takes over, and a client's specific concerns are not heard or seen by an attorney. Our clients know what they are losing and how it will affect them better than anyone. We must listen to those clients, see the property firsthand to understand the impacts and understand our clients' goals — whether money damages, modifications to the project, or another redress. Second, we educate. A critical role of an attorney is to explain the law to the client and to weigh for the client the risks and benefits of each possible course of action available to them before making decisions. And then finally, we execute. This page represents the types of cases that we regularly handle for clients and some of our results.
This Department bypass case was resolved for $3,200,000. The case involved a 174-acre tract of land that was residential performance (RP) zoned and located with direct access to a two-lane highway. The highest and best use of the property was for residential development. In addition to the current direct taking this case also involved Map Act constitutional taking claims. Under both scenarios, the Department planned to take 40 acres of land in right of way and other easements. In addition, another 42 acres were left landlocked and inaccessible. Our client was left with approximately 93 acres after the planned roadway that could still be developed for residential purposes, or if rezoned, future industrial/commercial development.
This case was complicated because, in addition to the value issues raised when the Department takes land to build a highway, it also involved a Map Act claim. Litigation, in this case, lasted a year and a half.
The Department was represented by attorneys from both the Attorney General's office and numerous private law firms.
The Department's initial offer to our client was $1,555,350, based on the damage valuations contained in their appraisal reports. David Henson retained independent appraisers to determine applicable damages under the various direct condemnation and inverse condemnation claims that were involved in the case and who calculated a value significantly in excess of the Department's valuation.
The case was resolved for $3,200,000, for more than double the initial offer.
David Henson and Anne Duvoisin report the resolution of a highway bypass case against the NC Department of Transportation. The case involved two tracts of land, the first being a 7-acre tract of land on a two-lane highway zoned residential performance. Our attorneys through retained experts successfully argued the highest and best use of the property was for commercial development with reasonably probable rezoning to industrial transitional. This zoning was consistent with that of nearby parcels of land. This part of the case involved both a direct condemnation claim as well as a Map Act claim. The second track involved a parcel of more than 100 acres which was intended for residential development, but which had some challenging wetland issues that complicated the case. This parcel only included a Map Act claim.
The initial offer from the Department in this was case for $282,250. The case was negotiated prior to the initiation of litigation against representatives of the Department for a total settlement of $1,900,000, or an increase of more than 573%.
This roadway-taking case involved multiple tracts of land including a residence, small industrial building, abandoned family homestead, a leased cell tower, and farmland. This case also involved direct and Map Act claims. The Department took the residence, cut through the existing farmland, and left a portion of the property landlocked. That portion of land could only be accessed through an adjoining family member's property.
The Department retained multiple experts in managing both claims. Under the Map Act claim, the Department offered a damages settlement of $87,000. Several years later, the Department provided additional damage reports which reflected approximately $781,000 in damages. Our attorneys ultimately resolved the matter for $1,725,000, for nearly twenty times more than the original offer.
Litigation, in this case, lasted more than 6 years, with the case defended by multiple lawyers from the NC Attorney General's office and private firms. The Department engaged multiple appraisers in the case, as did Henson Fuerst.
This case involved a 70-acre tract of future residential development land that included two long-term cell tower leases. David Henson and Anne Duvoisin filed an inverse condemnation claim under the Map Act alleging damages that bisected the property and left half of the property and one of the cell towers inaccessible. The Department subsequently moved forward with a direct condemnation claim, which also bisected the property (but did not impact either of the cell tower leases) and resulted in a loss of 10 acres of right of way, and small permanent utility easements, and a temporary drainage easement. The final plan did include a service road that allowed access to that portion of the property which would have been cut off by the roadway project.
The Department was represented by both the NC Attorney General's office and private counsel, with an appraisal expert. The initial offer from the Department was $58,850. Our office retained multiple appraisal experts who provided damage valuations for both the direct and Map Act parts of the case. The case was resolved and paid out for a total amount of $1,200,000. This was a 1,939% increase from the initial offer.
This case involved a commercial dealership property that was designed for automotive, boat, and/or RV sales and service. The property was commercially zoned along a busy two-lane highway that the Department planned to convert to a four-lane divided super-street design. The Department took .37 acres of right of way, .25 acres of a permanent utility easement, and a small temporary construction easement area. The Department argued that the permanent utility easement would have minimal impact on the property and that the tenant and landowner could continue to use that area for parking in the future. Our attorneys and experts argued in contrast that the permanent easement area was in fact permanent and that no guarantees could be made as to how that area would be restricted or used by utility companies. Additionally, we argued that the permanent utility area would significantly impact the available display space for tenants who were selling vehicles on the frontage of the property.
The case was in litigation for three and a half years with multiple appraisal inspections by experts retained by both parties. The initial offer in the case was $329,025. It was ultimately resolved for $734,000 after a mediated settlement conference, an increase of more than double the original offer.
Anne Duvoisin and David Henson represented a family whose residential parcel was being partially condemned. Their one hundred-year-old home sat on an acre parcel. The husband was a residential building contractor who was very familiar with the grading and drainage issues that frequently develop in construction in the mountains. This unique property backed up to a steep hill below an existing highway. Prior to highway widening by the Department, water draining from the highway was diffused both by a culvert and forestation, which soaked up excess water. The culvert fed into a tributary leading to a nearby river.
As part of its plan to widen 221, the Department condemned one-tenth of an acre of the one-acre lot. The Department also took out the trees, shrubs, and ground cover that absorbed some of the drainages (rendering the slope impervious), altered the slope so that it was significantly steeper, and increased the size of the culvert so that the volume of water cascading from the widened highway would flood the entire property, no longer remaining in the bounds of the stream below it. It was a disaster waiting to happen, and our clients knew it. But the Department didn't listen to them. We did and filed a counterclaim alleging that the Department's plan would inversely condemn the remainder of their property. The inverse condemnation claim, if successful, would entitle clients to reimbursement for attorneys' fees.
The Department was so confident at the outset that the project would do no damage to the remaining property that it did not even order an appraisal of the home. The original offer was $6,775.00. To fight the Department's position, Anne and David retained a number of experts knowledgeable about flooding, including a hydraulic engineer and a sedimentation engineer. These experts forecast that absent costly revision to the Department's construction plans, deforestation coupled with the change in slope and increase in culvert size, would destroy the property. The Department's experts disputed those claims but as the project was constructed it became evident that our experts were correct.
Complicating matters was the family's desire to keep the home notwithstanding its inevitable destruction. This case was resolved at mediation, after Anne gave a powerful and compelling presentation of the photographic, video, and scientific expert evidence assembled by our team for $356,275.00, for more than fifty-two times the original offer. The settlement also included our clients retaining the home and keeping the uneconomic remnant of the remainder land. The case took six years to resolve against multiple attorneys from the NC Attorney General's office. The Department paid more than the appraised value of the whole property and the clients got to keep the home, although they had been awarded more than its full value.
This case involves another super street design taking by the NC Department of Transportation. Our client's property had two restaurant tenants- one a national fast-food chain and the other a local restaurateur. The Department was widening and reconfiguring an existing multilane thoroughfare into a super-street divided highway and installing a u-turn in front of the property. This reconfiguration forced patrons of the tenants to enter and exit the property at another access point in the commercial subdivision where the client property was located. The taking involved .02 acres of right of way and .11 acres of temporary construction easement. The Department agreed not to disturb the outside seating area and lighting for patrons of the two restaurants, even though these areas fell within the construction easement.
We were retained early in the case when the Department was still finalizing the roadway design plans. This allowed Henson Fuerst Attorneys to coordinate early planning meetings with Department representatives, engineers, the construction company awarded the contract to build the road, and other property owners in the commercial subdivision to seek modifications to the roadway design plans. The case lasted nearly four and half years which included pre-construction planning meetings and revisions, negotiations, litigation, and settlement.
The initial offer from the Department was $177,650. The case was resolved for $422,500, or a 138% increase, plus the negotiated accommodations and plan modifications that lessened the negative impacts to the client. This case illustrates the importance of collaborative planning between our attorneys and the Department's agents and employees and why our early involvement can lead to plan changes and concessions that minimize the impact of construction on the business.
This roadway-taking case was for the construction of a bypass project by the Department. The property was a working farm of more than 215 acres, but our clients had residential subdivision development plans from engineering and design experts to put more than 250 homesites and 17,000 linear feet of streets and infrastructure on the property. Our firm litigated both a direct condemnation action along a Map Act claim.
The Department's actions took 19 acres right away, bisecting the farm. It also took permanent utility easements of less than one acre. The Department's appraiser valued the damage to the property at $141,000.
The case was resolved after two years of litigation against the Department for a total of $995,000, or a 606% increase over the initial offer.
Henson Fuerst Attorneys resolved a commercial condemnation case involving the taking of approximately 1.2 acres from the road frontage of a 5+ acre tract of land. Our client used the property for a commercial construction business that utilized heavy machinery, low boy tractor-trailers, dump trucks, and other large-scale equipment. The Department taking for the bypass project eliminated direct highway access to the property and created a service road access instead. The service road and bypass were graded to be 8-10' in elevation higher than the current grade. Throughout the litigation in the case, firm attorneys used consulting engineers and contractors to determine driveway grade slopes that would accommodate the property owners' unique access issues for the heavy and low clearance vehicles and trailers. That information was used to negotiate changes to the proposed Department plans and a revised driveway connection at an acceptable slope to allow for the necessary access that included the construction of a 120+ foot graded driveway on the property.
The litigation, in this case, included both a direct condemnation action and inverse Map Act condemnation claims. The Department's initial appraisal report and offer in the case were $136,200. The case was resolved and our clients were paid a total of $900,000, for an increase of 561% above the initial offer.
The Department was represented by attorneys from the NC Attorney General's Office and private law firms. The case took less than 2 years to resolve.
Chris Beacham reports a trial verdict in an industrial total taking case by the Department of Transportation. The parcel was zoned Light Industrial, triangular in shape, and improved with a 3,200 sq. ft. warehouse used for the sale of industrial utility and construction supplies. It also included a large gravel lot for inventory storage surrounded by a chain-link fence with barbed wire on top. The property had roughly 894 linear feet of frontage along a 4-lane highway behind control of access fence and 880 linear feet of frontage along a secondary road on the opposite side of the property. The property had three driveways along the secondary road. The DOT was taking the entire property.
The Department's initial appraisal report and offer were for $511,300.00. At the court-ordered mediated settlement conference, the DOT offered $700,000, which was rejected by the client. The case continued to trial, whereby Chris utilized a testifying Real Estate broker who had extensive experience with convenience stores and industrial properties to provide expert testimony. The case was defended by two assistant attorney generals on behalf of the Department. The combined verdict and interest payment from the Department was for a total of $867,522.19.
Our client was an established multi-family residential developer who developed a manufactured home subdivision with more than two dozen lots in a rural county. Several of the lots had been sold off already, but the owner retained a majority of the lots for future sale or rental. The Department planned a bypass route that imposed control of access lines, took some parcels in whole, impacted others in part, and affected water wells and septic systems on several.
We represented the developer against the NC Attorney General's office. The Department offered $197,050 as compensation for the diminution in value of the impacted parcels. The case was resolved for a total of $450,000, an increase of 128%.
David Henson regularly represents developers and owners of manufactured home subdivisions. These cases present unique challenges including factors such as: whether the subdivision uses individual wells or a community water source, whether the subdivision has community septic/sewer service or individual systems, whether the manufactured homes are permanently affixed and deemed real property or whether they are personal property, whether the manufactured homes are owned by the subdivision (pad rentals) or individually owned, whether the internal subdivision streets are still owned and maintained by the developer or whether they have been accepted by the Department. All of these matters can present unique challenges for property owners and their counsel as the cases move through the litigation process.
David Henson and Anne Duvoisin settled an eminent domain taking of a residential and farm property impacted by a Department bypass project. The entire tract included more than 28 acres with various improvements including multiple homes, barns, and artwork sheds. The Department impacted the road frontage along the rural highway which included a right of way taking, permanent utility easements, and a temporary construction easement that was intended to be a detour road for the Department's use during the construction period. This detour road would come close to the family home, which raised a number of concerns for the property owners.
They represented the property owners against the Departments in both the direct condemnation claim, as well as a separate but related inverse condemnation Map Act claim, alleging constitutional takings dating back for a number of years.
The Department initially offered and deposited $39,000. Both sides retained multiple appraisers to determine the damages in this case. The Department was represented by both private counsel and the NC Attorney General's office. We litigated this case for 6 years, reaching a resolution for $975,000, which was an increase of more than 2,351% from the initial deposit.
Our attorneys were involved very early in this case and were able to negotiate various modifications and accommodations to the plans, including temporary safety barriers being placed along the detour road. These actions, while not directly impacting the resolution value of the case, were critical to reaching a workable solution between our clients and the Department.
Henson Fuerst Attorneys were associated by other counsel to defend against this condemnation claim brought by the Department against a paving and grading company that owned a multi-use property upon which sat the company's office, a rental home, storage buildings for heavy equipment, and space to park numerous lowboy trailers used by the company in its work. The parcel sat below a highway that was being widened. The Department condemned right of way, utility easements, construction easements, and drainage easements. The Department's plan altered the slope and turn ratio on the drive into the parcel so that none of the lowboy trailer trucks which the company used in their business could access or exit the parcel, effectively threatening the ability of the business to survive. In addition, the Department significantly widened the culvert draining water from the highway, flooding the property, and saturating the soil -- leaving it permanently spongy. Nonetheless, the Department disputed that the property had been sufficiently damaged to require it to provide the business with relocation benefits.
The Department's initial offer was $197,725.00. Over several years Anne Duvoisin and David Henson were able, through the use of environmental engineers, to persuade the Department that the property was so damaged that it would require the Department to pay for the relocation of the business elsewhere. In addition, the Department allowed the company to retain the entire parcel as an uneconomic remnant and paid $400,000.00 in compensation for the damage to the parcel. This was over twice their initial offer. The case took five years to resolve.
This commercial taking case involved a commercial duplex building located in an economically depressed area of Raleigh. One half of the property housed an artist studio and screen-printing business, and the other half was in need of significant rehabilitation and repair. The total parcel size was .143 acres. The Department of Transportation planned to take a small sliver of the unused portion of the client's property. The Department of Transportation's appraiser recognized that the remaining part of the building would be useless and leave the property owner with an uneconomic remnant valued at just over $381,000. The Department of Transportation's initial offer covered the damages portion at $202,400.
After discussion with the Department of Transportation and receiving a contingency offer for the purchase of the entire property, Chris Beacham retained a local commercial appraiser and demonstrated a greater difference in value and that the taking would leave the property with a remnant valued at less than half of the what the Department of Transportation had initially determined. Further, he was able to show that the property would have no meaningful use to the property owner after the taking, given the small parcel size and configuration. The Department was represented by counsel from the NC Attorney General's office. The case was resolved for $700,000 with the DOT taking the entire property.
Attorneys for Henson Fuerst report the resolution of 3.5 acres taken by the Department of Transportation from a 19+ acre tract. Our clients were three elderly siblings who had inherited the land and were holding it for investment purposes for future commercial development. Because of Transportation Corridor Map filings by the Department, however, they had been unable to develop or sell the property as planned. The tract included two parcels that were adjacent to the highway being widened, one of which was a 1-acre parcel with a dilapidated home and the other undeveloped land. The DOT taking eliminated all direct access to the property and instead created access via a service road.
This case involved both a direct condemnation taking and a Map Act regulatory taking. Henson Fuerst partners litigated this case along with associating co-counsel, against multiple attorneys with the Attorney General's Office and outside counsel. The litigation lasted two years and four months.
The Department's initial offer to our client was $27,300.00 for the one-acre parcel and no offer on the other 2.5 acres that were impacted. Anne Duvoisin retained an expert appraiser to value the damages to both parcels caused by the Map Act's development moratorium. The case was resolved for $750,000.00, for an increase of 3,100 % over the initial offer. Our clients retained the remaining 16 acres for future commercial development.
This 15+ acre mixed-use parcel located at the intersection of two local roads was owned by a closely held Limited Liability Company. The Department planned to take 2.84 acres of the parcel along with .02 acres for a permanent utility easement and .03 acres for temporary construction easements. The property was improved by two commercial buildings and a water tower leased by the city. In addition, a portion of the property was also leased to a local flying club as a landing and takeoff strip.
The taking divided the parcel into two parcels, each of which retained roadway access. There was no change in the highest and best use of the remainder.
The Department's initial offer for the direct taking was $30,675.00 and for the inverse Map Act taking $ 13,089.17, based on Department appraisals of the damages caused by each taking. The two offers totaled $43,764.17. Anne Duvoisin and David Henson, along with associating co-counsel resolved the case for $338,089.17, for an increase of 673% increase over the initial offers from the Department.
This mixed-use 95-acre parcel was owned by a retired doctor and his wife, who put it to residential, agricultural, and commercial use. The property included a commercial nursery, multiple greenhouses, rock bed areas, wells, fencing, a one-acre pond with an irrigation system, and a water storage tank. The nursery building also included an apartment. The property also had a 4,000 sq ft home and 1,200 sq foot garage residence. A small portion of the property was in a flood zone.
This property was impacted by a Direct Condemnation claim as well as a Transportation Corridor Official Map Act claim. Our firm filed suit under the Map Act claim, and litigation lasted four years. The case was defended by the NC Attorney General's office and outside counsel.
The Department's appraisers valued the Map Act damage to the property at a mere $225.00 and the direct taking damage at $ 426,250, for a total of $ $426,475.00. The taking included almost 19 acres of property and resulted in the taking of the greenhouse, fencing, and the destruction of the irrigation system. In addition, the Department took about 1.6 acres for temporary drainage and construction easements. The new right of way came within 20 feet of the side of the house and 12 feet of the deck, rendering it externally obsolete. Access was controlled after the project was built.
Henson Fuerst Partners Anne Duvoisin and David Henson, together with associating co-counsel, more than doubled the award of just compensation with a resolution of $875,000.00.
Our clients owned and operated a vineyard and winery property which included more than 103+ acres. This property was impacted by a filing under the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act for a future bypass project. Henson Fuerst partners Anne Duvoisin and David Henson, together with associating co-counsel, filed an inverse condemnation action alleging constitutional takings and other damages as a result of this filing. The Department subsequently filed a direct condemnation suit taking more than 21 acres for the construction of the new bypass.
The Department initially offered $357,500.00 for the direct taking of the parcel and nothing for the Map Act taking. The taking bisected the property and controlled access to one portion of the property.
Anne and David, together with associating co-counsel, settled the case for $725,000, roughly double what the Department had offered. Our clients retained the landlocked portion of land and subsequently sold it to an adjoining property owner for assemblage. The case was in litigation for four years and was defended by both the NC Attorney General's office and outside legal counsel.
Disclaimer: The cases on this page are illustrative of the matters handled by the firm and do not include all results achieved by the firm. The outcome of a particular case can't be predicated by a lawyer's or firm's past results. Each case is different, and the value of a case can depend on a number of factors, such as: the nature of the taking by the condemning authority, the unique characteristics of the underlying property and improvements, the opinions and testimony of retained experts, the legal complexity of the case, and whether the case was resolved through negotiation or trial. In all of the below cases, the condemning authorities were represented by counsel and all settlements or verdicts were fully collectible.