New York Eminent Domain

Brody v. Village of Port Chester
New York Property Owners File Federal Lawsuit To Stop Abuse of Eminent Domain

IJ client Bill Brody.

The abuse of eminent domain—where government takes private property against the owner’s will—is a nationwide problem. But for years, New York property owners faced a particularly outrageous system not only fraught with abuse, but set up to prevent property owners from challenging such abuse under state procedures. On Wednesday, October 4, 2000, the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice filed a federal lawsuit to change that. The suit was filed in Manhattan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"New York’s eminent domain law defied both common sense and the Constitution," said Dana Berliner, a senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, which represents the property owner.  "In New York, there are only 30 days when you can object to the government taking your property to give it to another private party. Those 30 days came and went without any individual notice to the owner, a proper hearing, or notice of the right to appeal, all of which are required by the Constitution. Those who face the loss of a home, business or church receive less due process than a kid being suspended from school.”

The New York Legislature has now changed its law to give owners notice of loss of their rights and the need for bringing a rapid legal challenge if they want to keep their property, and a federal judge has ruled that the Village of Port Chester violated Brody's due process rights by failing to give him notice.  While this ruling unfortunately came too late to save Brody’s building from the bulldozers, the Village has responded by issuing a full public apology to Brody for violating his rights and renaming a nearby street corner “William Brody Plaza” in honor of his long fight to preserve his (and other property owners’) constitutional rights.


Essential Background


Backgrounder: Hopelessly Rigged: New Yorkers Try to Save Their Property

Client Photo

Latest Release: Port Chester Property Owner Brody Vindicated in Long-Running Eminent Domain Battle (June 16, 2009)


Client Video - none available

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Launch Release: New York Property Owners File Federal Lawsuit To Stop Abuse of Eminent Domain (October 4, 2000)


Decision: Southern District of New York (July 18, 2007)

Decision: Second Circuit Ruling (December 5, 2005)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:

October 4, 2000

Court Filed:


U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York



June 16, 2009:  The village of Port Chester apologizes for violating Brody’s Constitutional rights 

October 2, 2008:  IJ appeals  decision to award no damages or injunctive relief

September 18, 2008:  Village of Port Chester appeals decision that it violated Brody's rights

August 11, 2008:  U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York awarded Brody nominal damages. The judge found that Brody’s rights were violated when he was denied the opportunity to fight the Village’s decision to use eminent domain. Nonetheless, he refused to return Brody’s property or award other damages.

July 18, 2007:  U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rules the government must provide citizens with notice before their right to challenge eminent domain expires. Further, the Village of Port Chester, N.Y., violated Brody’s rights by failing to do so.

December 5, 2005:  U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reverses and rules that the Village of Port Chester violated William Brody's 14th Amendment right to due process of the law by condemning his property for private development without even giving him personal notice of his one opportunity to challenge the condemnation.

January 4, 2005: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York holds that New York’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law did not violate constitutional rights and finding no violation of Brody's rights either.



September 24, 2003:  U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reverses and holds that there was no earlier proceeding in which owners could have brought their claims.  The court sent the case back to district court for a decision on the merits.



October 19, 2001:  IJ appeals decision against property owners.



September 20, 2001:  Summary judgment granted for defendants on grounds that plaintiffs should have brought their claims in an earlier proceeding.



August 2001:  U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals vacates injunction.



January 2001:  Trial court grants preliminary injunction motion for Brody. 





Completed June 16, 2009



Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Trial Court Awards Nominal Damages In Long-Running Land-Grab Fight (August 14, 2008)

Chart: "Gone in a NY Minute" How the Government takes PRIVATE PROPERTY right out from under the noses of New York property owners

Release: Federal Court Vindicates Brody:Constitution Requires Real Notice of Eminent Domain (July 19, 2007)

MAP: State Supreme Court Rulings On Eminent Domain for Private Development


Release: His Fight Changed New York’s Eminent Domain Law; Monday’s Trial Will Decide If Bill Brody Finally Gets Justice (March 16, 2007)


IJ’s first-ever nationwide census of eminent domain abuse:  Public Power, Private Gain


Latest Release: 2nd Circuit Victory Against N.Y. Eminent Domain Abuse (December 5, 2005)


Release: New York Makes ED Law More Fair; State Now Requires Property Owners Be Notified of Possible Takings and Right to Object (September 17, 2004)


Release: Small Business Owner Beats City Hall In Eminent Domain Abuse Battle (September 24, 2003)


Release: New York Property Owners Lose On Legal Technicality, Appeal May Be Forthcoming (September 21, 2001)

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Victory and a Government Apology for IJ Client Bill Brody; Liberty & Law (August 2009)

Article: Long-Term, Strategic Litigation Comes Full-Circle in Brody Case; Liberty & Law (June 2009)

Article: In It For the Long Haul: Bill Brody’s Seven-Year Struggle Against Eminent Domain, Liberty & Law (April 2007)

Article: High Court Refuses to Hear Eminent Domain Extortion Case; Liberty & Law (April 2007)


Release: Court Dissolves Injunction in Eminent Domain Case, Property Owner Fights On (August 9, 2001)

Article: Overcoming New York's Stacked Deck: Victory and Vindication for Property Owner, Liberty & Law (February 2006)


Release: Property Owners Score First-Round Victory In Case Against New York's Abuse of Eminent Domain (January 18, 2001)

Article: 7 Days and 60 Minutes; Institute Earns Property Rights Triumphs In Rapid Succession (December 2003)


Release: Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against Government (October 4, 2000)

Article: Breaking Down the Walls of Economic Protectionism (December 2003)

Media Advisory: Media Conference: Federal Lawsuit Seeks To Stop Widespread Abuse of Eminent Domain (October 4, 2000)

Article: Wine Litigation is Supreme Court Bound (October 2003)


Article: Brody Fights On (September 25, 2003)

Article: IJ Scores Opening-Round Victory In New York Eminent Domain Challenge; Liberty & Law (March 2001)

Article: Private Property Must Be Respected Even In The Empire State; Liberty & Law (November 2000)

Article: How the eminent domain bulldozer created a private-property backlash (July 2, 2000)


Article: New York State’s ‘Legal’ Land Grabs (July 2, 2000)

Email Address
Please enter a valid email address

Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.682.9320, Fax 703.682.9321
© 1997-2015