Suffolk lawsuit makes top list

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, February 17, 2011

An eminent domain settlement against the city of Suffolk tied for No. 27 on the state’s top settlements of 2010, an annual list compiled by Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

The city was ordered by the court to pay $1.4 million to Upton Farms, Inc., for a swath of land it condemned and took for a road improvement project. Its initial offer was $882,603.

City Council approved taking the land in February 2008 as part of its plan to improve the Nansemond Parkway and Shoulders Hill Road intersection.

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According to the trade magazine’s synopsis of the case, the project “severely limited Upton Farms’ use of the 39-acre parcel at the southwest corner of the intersection. The city placed a retention pond on the corner, the most marketable portion of the property. The project eliminated the owner’s control of the road frontage, changed the grade, pushed by-right development and sign placement away from the road and imposed various easements on the property.”

Those easements include phone and electric utilities, according to court documents filed in the case.

City spokeswoman Debbie George said the city does not comment on lawsuits in which it is involved.

The magazine annually compiles lists of lawsuits “with a strong Virginia component” that resulted in settlements of at least $1 million. This year’s list included 37 settlements. The highest settlement in 2010, for a whopping $313 million, resulted from a False Claims Act case by a sales representative for Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Suffolk’s case was tied for the 27th spot with a medical malpractice case in which a woman’s doctor failed to inform her of the results of her biopsy. She later died of cervical cancer.

See the full list at