How we got 300% more by challenging NCDOT research1
Stock Photo to Protect Client Identity
Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or law firm’s past results.
When Glenn T. learned the state would be taking several of his properties to build the new Highway 70 Bypass near Goldsboro, he knew he would need good lawyer. A lot was at stake. His properties. His landscaping and farming businesses. His income. He’s semi-retired, and these businesses help generate income he and his family live on.
“When I’m talking to him I don’t feel like I’m talking to my lawyer, I feel like I’m talking to my friend that’s giving me good advice.”
This is not the state’s first rodeo
Glenn knew the fight would be him – an individual property owner – against the vast resources of a powerful state government.
Those odds concerned him.
“This is not the state’s first rodeo. This is what these lawyers do for a living. They know what to do. But it’s probably the only time I will ever go through it in my lifetime.”
So he started asking around for referrals for an experienced eminent domain lawyer. Some folks he knew that worked for the state told him about Stan Abrams who had worked as a lawyer representing the NCDOT, but had recently left to represent individual property owners.
“I heard about his reputation from some people that worked with him within the [NCDOT] that he was a great lawyer and one of the most personable lawyers there. And most of all, that he was a good Christian man.”
In good hands with someone who worked for “the other side”
Glenn reasoned that he would be in good hands with someone who had represented “the other side.”
“When you have somebody that has been an employee of those that are going to take your land and that worked there for several years, and already knows what’s going on, they know the other side’s strategies. And they know what they are going to do to try and take your land for the least amount of money they can. That’s one of the reasons I hired Stan: I liked him as a person and I liked that he knew what he was doing from the other perspective, and I knew he was a good lawyer or the state wouldn’t have had him.”
I was his very first client
Glenn became Stan’s first client after he left the NCDOT and joined the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm.
Glenn owned several tracts of land off of Highway 13 near Goldsboro – roughly 29 acres. Two of the tracts were adjoining and had highway frontage. Glenn was using about 5 acres for his landscaping business and he farmed the rest.
The NCDOT was going to take 13 acres right down the center of these two tracts, leaving about 7.5 acres south of the bypass and 8 acres north of it. The little bit of land they left south of the bypass had very limited access to the road after the taking. The remaining land north of the new bypass would have access via a new service road.
The third tract Glenn owned was approximately 30 acres of farmland from which the NCDOT took roughly 2 acres.
He said she said
Predictably, the NCDOT offered much less than what Stan had analyzed the properties were worth. Their reasoning behind the low-ball offer was based on their analysis that showed the properties to be nothing more than farmland and not ripe for commercial development because there was no sewer available and the soils would not allow for development.
Stan begged to differ. He noted that the state’s analysis and conclusion regarding the soil was based entirely upon a review of soil maps – not actual testing of the soils on the property.
Stan got a second opinion. He hired a soils scientist to test the soils. What they discovered was there were, after all, soils on the property suitable for development.
The case was somewhat of a jigsaw puzzle and took months and months of negotiations. Meanwhile the NCDOT dug in their heels while Stan prepared for trial.
During trial preparations, Stan consulted with and retained an appraiser and a developer who further pointed out that these two properties were indeed best suited for commercial development – not farmland like the NCDOT claimed.
Faced with this new information, the NCDOT offered Glenn more than 300% more than their initial offer and the case was settled just days before trial.
He has done everything he said he was going to do
Glenn was happy with his result, happy he did not have to go to trial, and happy with the way Stan handled his case.
“I have been well pleased with Stan. He has done everything he said he was going to do. There is nothing that he has promised me that he didn’t try to do.”
You don’t go through months and months NCDOT negotiations and not come out feeling somewhat like soldiers who’ve battled a large and powerful force together. And as often happens in battle, the two became good friends.
“When I’m talking to him I don’t feel like I’m talking to my lawyer, I feel like I’m talking to my friend that’s giving me good advice. He’s a Christian. And that means a lot to me. Stan doesn’t just throw that word around. Stan lives it and it shows up in the kind of work he does and the kind of man he is. It might not mean a lot to a lot of people, but it meant a lot to me.”