EDWARDSVILLE, IL (March 13, 2023) – Flint Cooper, a law firm specializing in Rails-to-Trails litigation, works on behalf of landowners who may have a claim against the federal government under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution if their property abuts the proposed Bonita Estero recreational trail project in Lee County, Florida.
Rails-to-Trails takings are property confiscations by the federal government under the National Trails System Act (“Trails Act”). The Trails Act authorizes abandoned railroad corridors to be converted to public recreational biking and walking trails, while preserving the right-of-way for future use as a railroad if such use becomes viable again in the future. Further, the Trails Act and its implementing regulations prevent the abandoned railway from reverting to the abutting landowners, and instead grants the trail sponsor a new easement for a new purpose — namely, an easement for a recreational trail.
Federal courts have long held that landowners whose property abuts a rail line being converted into a recreational trail are entitled to compensation under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Although the government may take a landowner’s property, it must pay the landowner fair market value for the property taken. But, if the landowner does not pursue a claim for compensation before the statute of limitation expires, then the government is not required to pay the landowner any compensation. The property owner must enforce their constitutional rights by filing suit against the federal government in the United States Court of Federal Claims. Any lawsuit is solely against the federal government and does not affect the recreational trail project.
ABOUT FLINT COOPER
Flint Cooper is a preeminent litigation firm managing a diverse portfolio of multibillion-dollar cases. Co-led by founding partners Ethan Flint and Jeff Cooper, both world-renowned for their accomplishments litigating asbestos-related cases and Fifth Amendment federal takings cases, Flint Cooper boasts a national presence and the ability to file a lawsuit and try cases anywhere. With offices in Edwardsville, Illinois, Paducah, Kentucky and Dallas, Texas, Flint Cooper handles catastrophic personal injury and product liability cases, litigates cases involving terminal illnesses, and currently represents the largest contingent of plaintiffs with claims against the federal government than any single firm in the country.