Environmental Law

NJ couple OKs $1 settlement in eminent domain suit over their lost ocean view


A New Jersey couple has accepted a $1 settlement in their five-year-old lawsuit against the state over the building of a protective sand dune behind their beachfront home.

Harvey and Phyllis Karan had contended that the 22-foot high sand dune blocked their panoramic view of the ocean, Reuters reports.

The Long Beach Island couple had rejected a $300 offer from their local borough as compensation for their lost beachfront land in 2008. And a jury eventually awarded them $375,000 in damages,

But the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the award in July, saying the trial court erred by not allowing the jury to consider whether the benefits of a higher dune offset any loss in the value of the couple’s property.

That ruling was widely seen as a victory for beachfront communities that want to build sand dunes to protect their property from catastrophic storms like Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the Jersey Shore last Oct. 29.

“Sandy changed everything,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement.

Peter Wegener, one of the couple’s lawyers, said the Karans are an elderly couple who were “exhausted” by the litigation. “They are somewhat disappointed that the system of justice in a sense let them down, and not up to going through it all over again,” he said.

As part of the settlement, borough officials agreed to reimburse the couple $24,260 in court costs, but it is not paying their legal fees.

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