Two updates on Yamagiwa v. City of Half Moon Bay, No. 05-4149 VRW (Nov. 28, 2007), the $37 million inverse condemnation judgment about which I posted here. In that case, the US District Court for the Northern District of California held the city liable for a taking after it caused the plaintiff's property to flood, which rendered it an undevelopable "wetland." You flood it, you bought it.
First, Gideon Kanner posts his latest comments on the ripeness argument made by the city, and a recent write up of the case in the LA lawyer's daily paper, the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
Professor Kanner writes about the city's post-trial argument that the case belonged in state court under the Williamson County ripeness doctrine (federal takings claims must be brought first in state courts). As I mentioned, the case was originally brought by the plaintiff in state court, but was removed to the federal court by the city. Kanner writes:
As far as we know the city never said “Oops,” or “Sorry about that,” or offered to reimburse the court and parties for the wasted time, effort and expenses it inflicted on them. By our lights Chief Judge Walker is a living saint for not sanctioning these guys. If it had been us — God forbid! – we’d have given serious consideration to reviving the medieval judicial custom of ordering that the miscreants’ hands be chopped off and nailed to the court house door as a warning to others. But what do we know?
More of Professor Kanner's thoughts here.
Second, Aaron Kinney writes up (with photo! and a reference to inversecondemnation.com!) at InsideBayArea.com, "Vaughn Walker, Half Moon Bay and a woodshed. In addition to providing more information about the case and what led up to the litigation, he picked up on the city's unsuccessful ripeness argument:
The other item worth mentioning was how the city, after arguments were made this summer, requested to have the case taken back to state court.
Walker took exception to the gambit. Basically, if the Insider understands it correctly, the plaintiff, Joyce Yamagiwa (trustee of the property for Keenan), filed for damages in both state and federal court. The city then requested that the case be heard in federal court, because it had jurisdiction.
But after the case was heard, the city changed its tune, argued the feds didn’t have jurisdiction and asked for the case to be taken back down to state court. Two legal bloggers have more informed takes on the matter here and here.
The bottom line? To Walker, the city was taken by surprise by the strength of Yamagiwa’s case, realized it was in trouble, and tried to get a do-over in another court. Walker dismissed the city’s motion on legal grounds and noted that retrying the case would waste millions of dollars in past and future legal expenses.
Also, here is Mr. Kinney's San Mateo Times article on the decision.