COSTA MESA, Calif., June 20, 2012 – David Cosgrove, a partner with law firm Rutan & Tucker, LLP, one of California’s oldest and largest full-service law firms, recently scored a victory against San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in an eminent domain dispute involving property in the Lakeside area of San Diego County.
After deliberation, a jury returned a verdict awarding $8,034,000 to Rutan’s clients, Arnold Schmidt and Luis Naranjo. The two own 115 vacant acres in the Lakeside area. SDG&E had come to trial valuing the taking at approximately $701,400.
SDG&E initiated an eminent domain action against Rutan’s clients as part of the Sunrise Powerlink project, which involves the construction of high voltage power lines from Imperial County to San Diego County. SDG&E condemned a 300-foot right-of-way across the middle of the property to build its power line, placing massive towers and helicopter pads on the property. The company also took various other property rights, including an access road, and a restrictive easement preventing a wide array of uses on the property.
“The sole issue in this case was the amount of constitutional ‘just compensation’ SDG&E owed our clients for taking their property,” said Cosgrove. ‘While SDG&E valued the land as low density residential property, we argued that its best use was for mining its considerable granite deposits, which were discovered by the property owners. Granite is in high demand in the area, and can be used in construction aggregate, including Portland cement concrete and asphalt. The jury agreed, and gave our clients the higher valuation they felt was fair.”
Cosgrove said the large just compensation figure was based on the property’s high value mineral deposits, and the fact that power lines and towers running down the middle of the property completely destroyed any potential mining use, causing extensive “severance damages.”
Cosgrove is co-chair of the firm’s Condemnation and Property Valuation Practice group and a partner in its Government & Regulatory Law Section. He specializes in eminent domain, water law and land use issues. Assisting Cosgrove was associate Alan Fenstermacher, also member of the firm's Government & Regulatory Law Section, where his areas of practice include a wide range of land use matters.
“We congratulate David and his team on this well-earned victory for their clients,” said Kim Thompson, Rutan’s managing partner.
About Rutan & Tucker LLP
Rutan & Tucker is California’s largest full-service law firm headquartered in Orange County, California with offices in Costa Mesa and Palo Alto. Primary practice areas include business and real estate litigation, corporate and securities law, labor and employment law, intellectual property, real estate, municipal and government agency law, land use law, bankruptcy, condemnation and property valuation, environmental law, and taxation and estate planning. Detailed information about the firm is available at www.rutan.com.