Riviera Beach, Florida Eminent Domain

Wells v. City of Riviera Beach


“I built this home, raised my children here and am raising my grandchildren here.” -- IJ client Princess Wells.


Thanks to IJ's litigation efforts, the residents of Riviera Beach are no longer haunted by the specter of eminent domain abuse. 

In the 2005 now-infamous case of Kelo v. New London, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution allows the taking of property for private economic development, but it also pointed out that states may offer more protection. The Florida legislature did just that and on May 4, 2006, passed a statute to prohibit such takings. Governor Bush signed the law on May 11, 2006. But Riviera Beach’s City Council voted on the night of May 10, 2006, to authorize signing an agreement to agree with developer Viking Harbor Inlet Properties that the City would use eminent domain to take property for the project. As a result, an 800-acre area full of homes and businesses, including as many as 5,100 residents, would be replaced with a yachting complex, luxury housing, and other private commercial uses. 

Riviera Beach’s Mayor announced that the City believed that Florida’s new law did not apply to Riviera Beach, so IJ sued on behalf of Riviera Beach home and business owners to stop the use of eminent domain for private development.  Shortly thereafter, the mayor was voted out of office, and new city council members were elected.  Responding to public outcry, they made clear that plans to use eminent domain were off the table.

Thanks to IJ’s lawsuit, Riviera Beach ended the threat of eminent domain. IJ withdrew its lawsuit, and the people of Riviera Beach could return to enjoying their homes and growing their businesses.


Essential Background


Backgrounder: Protecting Kelo’s Victims In Riviera Beach, Florida

Client Photo - none available

Client Video - none available

Latest Release: Riviera Beach Homeowners Celebrate Victory Over Eminent Domain Abuse (May 10, 2007)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Launch Release: Institute for Justice To Represent Riviera Beach Homeowners In Eminent Domain Lawsuit(June 12, 2006)

Complaint (September 26, 2006)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


September 26, 2006

Court Filed:


Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Palm Beach County, Florida




Current Court: 


Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Palm Beach County, Florida




Concluding Date:


May 10, 2007

Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Institute for Justice Will Represent Riviera Beach Homeowners In Fight Against Eminent Domain Abuse (September 26, 2006)


none available

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: Homes of 5000 Florida Residents Declared “BLIGHTED”, Liberty & Law (December 2006)

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