Re: The Reahard Property taking case Reahard vs Lee County, Florida
This case began when the Reahard family purchased 600 acres of land
Lee County in 1944. The Reahard's began subdividing and selling parcels
from this track immediately and later in 1956 separated out a parcel of
about 120 acres for development into individual home sites of 60 ft. by 125
ft or larger. They constructed roadways ,canals and filled lots and in 1960
recorded in the public records of Lee county a formal plat of the
subdivision now known as Imperial Shores (OR Book 53 pp 128-132).
Development and sale of lots continued unabated until 1972 when the
CLEAN WATERS ACT resulted in the need to obtain permits from the
Corp of Engineers USA. Development was slowed as a result of these
requirements but not stopped until l982 when the cost of obtaining permits
from the COE and the State of Florida exceeded the financial abilities of
the Reahards. There remained at that time 126 undeveloped residential lots
and an undeveloped MARINA SITE of 2.5 acres.
The Reahards were offered at that time 1.2 million dollars by another
developer for the remaining undeveloped 40 acres this was refused because
of certain conditions in the contract. Then in 1984 before the Reahards
were financially able to reapply for permits LEE COUNTY passed a
comprehensive land use plan which took their development rights (if you
prefer their known planned use of their land) away and in return issued an
order allowing development of ONE RESIDENTIAL LOT on the 40 acres.
In effect turning a 1.5 million DOLLAR forty acres piece of real estate into
a 40 thousand dollar lot. This parcel has about 800 ft. of paved road
frontage and about one mile of river and bay frontage.
This case was file in State Court by the Reahards in l989 and Lee County
requested that the court transfer the case to Federal Court. The case was
transferred and was tried before a Federal Magistrate in November l990.
The magistrate ruled on the basis of all the evidence presented that Lee
County had in effect by their actions taken the Reahard property. The
magistrate further order that a jury trial be held to determine the amount
owed the Reahards for the taking of their property. That trial was held in
May 1991 and the jury found that Lee County owed the Reahards
$700,000 as a result of their actions.
Lee County appealed the case to the 11th circuit court of appeals and
appeals court found that the Trial Magistrate had not done a proper
analysis for his order (off the wall) and remanded the case for further
proceedings. The magistrate amended his original order and reinstated the
jury verdict. Lee county again appealed to the 11th circuit this time the
court panel ruled that the case was not ripe when tried in the Federal Court
and should have been tried in the State Court it was removed from at Lee
County's request. (Lee County's mistake not the Reahards).... This ruling
completely ignores previous federal circuit rulings and treats real estate
holding differently from all other private property.
The Reahards requested the US Supreme Ct to accept cert and over- turn
this clearly wrongful ruling by the 11 th Circuit. The Court refused without
comment in April 1995. This in effect sends the case back to State Court
were it will be retried and the facts not having changed the Reahards will
win again. Lee County will continue to violate the Reahards constitutional
rights for another 6 or 7 years of legal mumbo jumbo. The Reahards need
your help and support (understand it is your constitutional rights as well)
Write your congressman or woman in support of the Reahards and in
support of strong legislation protecting your property rights at local, state,
and federal levels.
Nancie G. Marzulla, President and Chief attorney for The Defenders of
Property Rights handled the petition for cert. They can be contacted at 1
(202) 686 4197 in Washington, DC or at
At a Trial held in the Lee County Circuit Court with
Judge R Wallace Pack presiding this case was re tried
beginning on the 13th of February with the closing
arguments on Thursday February 20th. At the conclusion
of the closing arguments the Judge issued a ruling that
Lee County by their enactment of the 1984 Lee Plans had
in fact taken the Reahard's
property. He further ordered that a jury trial be held
beginning on the 25th of February 1997 to determine the
value of the property taken.
Lee County's attorney John Rennerís argument was that
the Reahards were only entitled to the property rights
that had been granted to them by Lee County's
Government and since they had no previous approval,
permits, acceptance or other official recognition by Lee
County they therefore had NO PROPERTY RIGHTS. If
you that do not understand this argument it means that we
are now governed by a group of non-elected bureaucrats
who think the God given rights of
free human beings only exist if they have government
Talk about unconstitutional government
The Jury Trial was completed on the 26th and the verdict
published was for a value of $600,000 on the date of
taking 21 Dec 84 thus amounting to an award of
$1,416,000 counting the interest.
On June the 6th a hearing was held to set attorney's fees
and costs the judge ruled that Lee County must pay
$455,000 of the Reahard's attorney's fees and $100,000
in costs. Therefore Lee County owes the Reahard's and
their attorney a total of $1,971,000 and the interest is
running at $600/day
January 5, 1998
The appeal was heard before the 2nd circuit court of
appeals today. Lee County's Attorney stated once again
that LEE COUNTY had given the Reahard's no RIGHTS
therefore they had none. They await the response from
the panel to the claims put forth by Lee County. It is
interesting to note that Lee County at this point hired a
new attorney, a former supreme court justice of the state
Further it is interesting to note that on the 15th of
December 1997 the Supreme Court of the United States
made a ruling in the case of City of
Chicago v The International Board of Surgeons that
stated that ripeness was not an issue in having a trial in
federal court for a violation of an individuals 5th
amendment rights. The defendant may transfer the case to
Federal Court and if the judge wants to take the case the
plaintiff can transfer the case. Therefore the Reahards
case was properly tried before
the Federal Court and the Ripeness Ruling by the 11th
Circuit was wrong.
Where is the justice here?
The Justice is that the Reahards recieved the news today
(02/12/98) that the appeals court has affirmed the lower
court's ruling in favor of the Reahards and Lee County
has now paid them.
Thank you Lord!