(Top left) IJ client Bill Brody and Senior Attorney Dana Berliner walk to a signing ceremony and press conference that bring nine years of litigation to a successful end. Port Chester, N.Y., Mayor Dennis Pilla greets Brody and Berliner before the signing ceremony (top right). Above, Pilla signs settlement agreement and apology for Bill Brody.
By Dana Berliner
In the last newsletter, we reported that courts have relied on the precedent in the Brody case to protect individuals’ right to due process in eminent domain and other cases across the country. In this newsletter, we are pleased to announce that the defendant in the case—the Village of Port Chester—also recognized the significance of the litigation in a public apology, and that Bill Brody’s lawsuit has finally ended. Last year, a federal judge ruled on the long-running dispute, holding that the village violated Brody’s due process rights when it took his property on South Main Street to make way for a shopping mall. During the course of the litigation, Brody’s large commercial building was turned into a Stop & Shop parking lot. The case was poised for its fourth appeal before we achieved this final resolution. The mayor of Port Chester read a formal apology, announcing:The Village of Port Chester sincerely apologizes for violating the constitutional rights of local businessman Bill Brody, who has been fighting a nine-year battle with the Village over its use of eminent domain. The Village acknowledges the importance of this litigation and regrets the hardship it has caused Mr. Brody for the years he has had to fight to vindicate his rights. Port Chester will memorialize Brody’s successful fight by naming a downtown intersection “William Brody Plaza.” The village will erect a sign at the corner of William Street and Main Street—right across from where Brody’s building once stood. The striking part of this agreement is the frank and full apology. It is extraordinarily rare for government entities to admit they were wrong. Like Port Chester, they will fight for years to avoid such an admission, even if the lawsuit is obviously correct. Port Chester did fight for almost nine years, but, as we approached the fourth appeal, it realized that it was time to concede that it had violated Brody’s rights and bring the case to a close. Bill Brody fought for his rights, and the rights of all New Yorkers, for years. His case was unusually grueling—he endured more than 20 hours of deposition and two trials. He has now been completely vindicated, with local and national recognition for the rights he fought to establish.
Dana Berliner is an Institute senior attorney.