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don't destroy

BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2008

Court Rejects New York State's Effort to Dismiss
Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case

Ruling is a Major Setback for Bruce Ratner's Proposed Project and the
Empire State Development Corporation

Property Owners and Tenants Will Get Their Day in Court Next Year

BROOKLYN, NY— A State Appellate Court* panel has rejected the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) motion to dismiss Goldstein et al. v. Empire State Development Corporation—the Atlantic Yards eminent domain lawsuit filed by nine property owners and tenants with properties in the footprint of Forest City Ratner's foundering megaproject proposal. The case was filed on August 1st of this year.

The ESDC unsuccessfully tried to dismiss the petitioners' case, which charges that New York State's use of eminent domain to seize private homes and businesses for developer Forest City Ratner's (FCR) Atlantic Yards project violates the New York State Constitution's public use, due process and equal protection clauses, as well as low-income resident requirements.

The petitioners' victory is a major setback for FCR and the ESDC. FCR President/CEO Bruce Ratner recently told The New York Times that he plans to "break ground" in December.  Ratner does not own the land he needs to build his proposed arena and skyscraper project, and is attempting to have New York State seize the land for him by eminent domain.

"Though Ratner claims that he'll ‘break ground' for his Atlantic Yards proposal in December, he cannot do so unless New York State uses eminent domain to seize the owners' and tenants' properties and give them to him as planned. But the plan is now in doubt," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn** Legal Director Candace Carponter. 

The Court has given the ESDC until October 15th to file its answer to the petitioners' complaint. According to the normal briefing schedule, petitioners will then file their brief on January 15th, 2009. The ESDC would reply in mid-February and petitioners would file their answering brief at the end of February. Oral argument would then most likely be scheduled for sometime in March or April and a decision would presumably come somewhere between late spring and fall of 2009.

"The seizure of my clients' homes and businesses is unconstitutional. We are pleased that the Court has recognized the merit of our case and will now hear the arguments in full," said lead attorney Matthew Brinckerhoff of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP. "We are confident that when we finally have our day in court, we will show that New York State's condemnation and seizure of my clients' homes and businesses for Forest City Ratner's enrichment violates New York's Constitution."

The tenants in the lawsuit are represented by South Brooklyn Legal Services attorney Jennifer Levy.

The initial complaint to the Court and the briefs on the motion to dismiss for Goldstein et al. v. Empire State Development Corporation can be downloaded at: www.dddb.net/eminentdomain

The Court's order denying the motion to dismiss can be found at: 

* Note: The case at issue is not an appeal; it is a complaint that originates in the Appellate Division. New York State law requires that all eminent domain challenges must be initiated in the Appellate Court, rather than the lower court—the Supreme Court. 

** Note: Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, in our effort to defend the homes and businesses of members of our community, and to advocate for their rights, organized the eminent domain lawsuit, and raises the funds to support it.

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them
DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,000 individual donors from the community.