Federal Court Case on Equal Protection and Due Process
BEACHFRONT OWNERS FILE CONSTITUTIONAL LAWSUIT
AGAINST CITY OF DESTIN, FL
DESTIN, FL/ATLANTA, GA: The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) today announced the filing of a constitutional lawsuit on behalf of a group of Florida beachfront property owners against the City of Destin, the City Manager, Mayor, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (Crystal Dunes Owners’ Association, Inc, William C. Braas, III, Alberto J. De Jongh, Richard H. Powell, and Janice Mazur v. City of Destin, Florida, Gregory A. Kisela, City Manager, Sarah “Sam” Severs, Mayor, and the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, Civil Action File No. 3:10-CV-157).
The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief for alleged ongoing violations of equal protection and procedural due process rights by City officials related to local government determination of beachfront property boundaries and non-enforcement against trespass on private property.
“For years, the City of Destin has implemented an array of policies and actions designed to grab private property and to allow for ‘public use’ of private beachfront property – despite instructions from the court, the Florida Attorney General, and in some cases even their own attorney,” said Shannon L. Goessling, Southeastern Legal Foundation executive director and chief legal counsel. “They’ve had ample notice to change their policies; they have a constitutional duty to protect constitutional private property rights. They have consistently failed to do what they are required to do by law.”
“The plaintiffs have brought this action as a last resort. The property owners hold title to the properties in question to the erosion control line (ECL). As a result, the government must follow certain procedures in any effort to deprive owners of the full rights and privileges of property ownership, including enforcement against trespass,” Goessling added. “The Destin property rights issue has been the subject of national attention because it stands for the proposition that if government can deprive beachfront property owners of their rights, it can do the same to any property owner.”
SLF, founded in 1976, is a public interest law firm that advocates limited government, individual economic freedom, and private property rights. In 2000, SLF attorneys represented a group of Destin beachfront property owners in the successful effort to stop the Destin City Council from enacting a similar beach property “taking” without just compensation. SLF also filed an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Walton Beach case.