Ohio Senior Citizens Ask Appeals Court To Save Their Home From Eminent Domain Abuse

John Kramer
John Kramer · December 22, 2004

Washington, D.C.—Barely one month remains before a private developer will evict senior citizens Carl and Joy Gamble from the only home they have ever owned; the developer will then be free to demolish it to make way for his own private development.

That is, unless an Ohio appeals court acts.

Rookwood Partners, led by developer Jeffrey R. Anderson, could also evict the tenants of local businessman Joe Horney at the end of January, and could then destroy his rental home as well. Anderson could do all this even though the Gambles and Horney are still appealing the City of Norwood’s power to take their properties and give it to Rookwood so it may build a shopping center. For this reason, the Institute for Justice yesterday filed a motion with the First District Court of Appeals of Hamilton County, asking it to protect the Gambles and Horney from eviction and the demolition of their homes until after their appeal is decided. At the beginning of the month, Judge Beth A. Myers denied a similar motion brought on behalf of Horney.

“It makes me so sad to think that after 35 years of wonderful holiday memories in our home, this could be the last Christmas we get to spend here,” said Joy Gamble. “Anderson shouldn’t be able to kick us out of our home and demolish it before our appeal is heard. That’s just wrong.”

“All we’re asking the Court of Appeals to do is maintain the status quo until it decides whether the City abused its power of eminent domain,” said Bert Gall, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represents the Norwood homeowners. “It was wrong for the City to use eminent domain for Rookwood’s private benefit. It’s worse that Rookwood could take the wrecking ball to the Gambles’ home before they get their day before the appeals court. The appeals process exists to make sure that justice is done in every case where important rights are at stake.”

“I am confident that the Gambles and I will win our appeals because it is clear that the City has abused its power of eminent domain,” said Joe Horney. “I just want to make sure that, after we win, our homes are still standing. Unfortunately, the City of Norwood seems more concerned about doing Anderson’s bidding than protecting the rights of its home and business owners.”

“I will keep fighting, not just for my rights, but for the rights of every person who has ever lost their home or business just because someone who’s bigger and more politically connected wanted it,” Horney concluded.

The Institute for Justice works to restore substance to the constitutional requirement that property can only be taken by the government for traditional public uses, such as roads and necessary public buildings, rather than for the benefit of private parties.