Can Developer Destroy Home Before Family Has Their Day in Court? 

John Kramer
John Kramer · February 1, 2005

Washington, D.C.—Facing the possible destruction of their home of 35 years, senior citizens Carl and Joy Gamble have turned to the Ohio Supreme Court to help them keep the bulldozers at bay. Today the Institute for Justice filed a motion on the Gambles’ behalf that asks the Ohio Supreme Court to prevent a private developer who wants to use the government power of eminent domain to evict the elderly couple in the middle of winter. If the Court fails to intervene, developer Jeffrey Anderson and his partners can, as early as tomorrow, force the Gambles out of the first and only home they have ever owned. Anderson could then reduce the Gambles’ home to rubble before their appeal of a trial court decision allowing this abuse is ever heard.

“I can’t bear the thought of leaving,” said Joy Gamble. “Our family built so many happy memories in this place, and now Anderson and his men could destroy it before our appeal can be heard. We are worried sick that every day in our home could be our last, and are truly scared of what the next few days may bring.”

Anderson has told the Gambles that he will “take possession” of the their home on or after tomorrow (February 2, 2005). Anderson could call the sheriff to help him force the Gambles from their home. Anderson’s attorneys have refused to promise to leave the Gambles alone while the Supreme Court is deciding their motion. Anderson has not even answered IJ’s request to let the Gambles know when he will try to kick them out of their home.

The Gambles are part of a group of Norwood property owners who are challenging the City’s power to take their properties for a private developer’s shopping center. (A Crate & Barrel is slated to go where the Gambles’ home now stands.) A decision last year by a Hamilton County Court Judge Beth A. Myers held that the City could proceed with its takings because the City called the neighborhood where Anderson wants to build “deteriorating,” even though the definition the City used would include nearly any neighborhood in Cincinnati.

“There is no good reason to kick the Gambles out of their home now,” said Scott Bullock, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represents the Norwood homeowners. “It’s crazy to make the Gambles leave the neighborhood before people who have agreed to sell their homes to Anderson leave. Anderson has been calling the shots for the City all along. The Supreme Court needs to stop his frantic efforts to destroy the Gambles’ life and home.”

“All our clients are asking for in this motion is that Anderson be prevented from kicking out the Gambles and bulldozing their home before their appeal is heard,” added Bert Gall, another Institute for Justice attorney representing the Gambles. “Appeals exist to protect people from incorrect, unjust judgments. Neither the Ohio nor the U.S. Supreme Courts have ever allowed peoples’ homes to be taken just because a city called them ‘deteriorating,’ and we are confident that our clients will prevail once their appeal has been heard. It is sickening that Anderson would try to evict these senior citizens in the middle of winter, then demolish their home when fundamental constitutional issues are still in question. What Anderson is doing is cruel and beneath the human dignity the Gambles deserve.”