Owner Wins $3.75M for Land Seized to Expand Highway
A Pennsylvania man has won a $3.75 million jury award for the value of land taken by the government to expand a highway.
Andrew Lang, 67, owned property that bordered Route 28 when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in 2009 took the property by eminent domain, which allows the government to take property for public use. The state seized the property as part of a $120 million project to expand the road into a four-lane highway. The state paid Lang $2 million, but he thought it was worth more.
His lawyer, Maurice Nernberg, argued that the state should pay Lang $12 million for the commercial property that Lang has owned since 1971 and leased to businesses. The land was part of an industrial park at the border of Pittsburgh and Millvale.
“He bought it in his 20s,” Nernberg said. “He built it up and got it occupied.”
A jury agreed that the land was worth more than the state paid for it, but that its total value was $3.75 million.
The verdict means the state must pay the remaining $1.75 million plus interest, according to Nernberg.
Other property owners who had their land taken for the same highway project have also sued. In one case, an auto body shop owner was forced out by sheriff’s deputies, ending a legal battle in which the shop owner, William Lieberth Sr., 57, tried unsuccessfully to keep his business.
In total, the state had to buy 166 properties and relocate 24 businesses and 15 residents.
Nernberg said Lang was satisfied with the verdict but he wasn’t ruling out an appeal.
The state department of transportation “never offered him enough money. There’s not a whole lot of negotiation with [them],” Nernberg said.