How a phone call helped get one man 10X more money for his property
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Ferondo Moore first met Attorney Jason Campbell at his business – a lucrative drive-through restaurant on a busy Wilmington street corner at Market Street and Princess Place. At the time, Ferondo didn’t realize just how valuable that meeting would be to him, his business, his family, his retirement. He’d been offered $38,000 for a utility easement that the NCDOT claimed “wouldn’t affect” his business. No stranger to real estate deals, Ferondo was able to convince the NCDOT to nearly double that offer to $63,000. Even so, a friend who had previously used the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm suggested he contact us. If Ferondo had not listened to his friend’s advice, he would not have realized the life-changing extent of that easement’s damages to his business until it was too late – and he would have left an additional $337,000 on the table. Here is his story.
Ferondo Moore is a 3rd generation entrepreneur in Wilmington, NC.
His grandfather owned a country store – the kind with splintered front steps where you kicked the snow and mud off your boots in wintertime, and came in sandy and barefooted in summer. A store that sold everything you needed and nothing you didn’t. Penny candy. Home grown vegetables and fruit. Gasoline. Bolts of gingham. And bushels and pecks of whatever was in season.
Ferondo’s father branched off from that old store and started buying convenience stores – “with a restaurant in them.” Ferondo, after graduating from Elizabeth State University (as did all four generations of Moore boys, including Ferondo’s son) followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and bought a Church’s Chicken drive-through restaurant. “That was my nest egg,” he said. “I knew I could always sell it for a million dollars one day.”
“Now that’s all gone”
Ferondo, also a real estate investor, knows a thing or two about property negotiations. So when the NCDOT showed up with a contract for a utility easement for part of Ferondo’s business, he was fairly confident he could bargain for more than the $38,000 the government offered him. “I felt like that offer just wasn’t fair,” Ferondo said.
“I really didn’t know how unfair they were going to be with me until I got with your law firm”
While Ferondo was able to negotiate an offer of $63,000, nearly double the NCDOT’s original offer, an inner voice kept forewarning him to get second opinion.
“With a franchise, there’s a certain amount of parking spaces you need. What [the NCDOT representative] was showing me was not affecting my parking or affecting Market Street. Everything he was showing me was the back of my property. And the value of that is not as much as Market Street.”
That inner voice persisted. So Ferondo phoned a friend who had previously hired our firm. The friend urged Ferondo to contact us.
“I contacted you and it was one of the best decisions I made”
“What the state was showing me was not what they were taking. It was the complete opposite!”
“When Jason came in, he showed me that they were actually taking 11 parking places, might be affecting another two, driveways, and things like that,” Ferondo recalled. He was dumbfounded that an NCDOT representative was so far off the mark that he had shown him the complete opposite of what they had planned for that easement.
Yet Ferondo, who also happens to be a preacher at a local church, sees the best in folks – tries to give them the benefit of the doubt. While he did give the NCDOT the benefit of the doubt, he was glad he trusted that inner voice in the end.
Attorney Campbell had to take Ferondo’s case all the way to trial to get what he felt was a fair offer. At trial, Ferondo was impressed. He described how Jason was so well prepared and spoke in terms so familiar and simple that the jury seemed genuinely engaged and interested.
“When Michael Jordan takes the floor you just sit back and watch in awe…that is how I felt watching Jason try my case!”
Ferondo was stunned when the jury came back from deliberations and awarded him $400,000 – more than 10 times the original offer and over and above what was asked for. “The expert we had as a witness on our team came back to see me and said he had never seen a jury come back with more than what was asked.”
“I’m glad I picked somebody who wouldn’t just settle for whatever number the state gave them. I feel like the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm pushed for the best result, and that’s what they got. And I’m glad I called them.”
“I can hit the reset button”
What does this mean for Ferondo’s business? His retirement nest egg? And his family? “I can hit the reset button. I can go do something else to make another nest egg. I can make that happen. It was just a way to hit the reset button for my company and for my family.”