After months of being threatened with the loss of their property through the government’s abuse of eminent domain, the Pittsburgh Wool Company avoided government condemnation with the help of the Institute for Justice when it reached a private agreement to be purchased by the Heinz Company. On August 2, 1999, the Pittsburgh City Council voted to approve the use of eminent domain to take Roy and Jeff Kumers’ property (the Pittsburgh Wool Company), which houses five businesses and employs more than 100 Pittsburghers. Heinz had sought the land for use as a private warehouse.
When the case came to the attention of the Institute for Justice, IJ offered to represent the Kumers for free in defense of their constitutionally guaranteed property rights. The Institute and the Kumers objected to the use of government power to take someone’s private property for another party’s private use. After the Institute for Justice announced that it would defend the Kumers, the City became reluctant to use eminent domain and the Heinz Company approached the Kumers for the first time in hopes of reaching a private settlement.
As they had done decades earlier to help Heinz in its expansion, the Pittsburgh Wool Company agreed to move without being forced by the government to do so.
In the fight to protect home and small business owners from the government’s abuse of eminent domain, it was only a matter of time until the apologists of the practice—taking property from one private individual and transferring it to another—began their counteroffensive. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous and widely despised decision in Kelo v.…