Elliott Greenleaf Wins $13 Million Federal Court Settlement In Civil Rights Land Use Litigation

On June 27, 2012, the Honorable Joel H. Slomsky of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved a settlement of $13,000,000.00 in Thomas J. Timoney, as Receiver for the Hankin Family Partnership v. Upper Merion Township, et al., C.A. No. 01-1622. The settlement was paid to the Hankin Family Partnership by Realen Valley Forge Greenes Associates, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, and by Defendants Upper Merion Township and its Board of Supervisors and its Zoning Hearing Board.

This federal civil rights lawsuit sought compensatory damages for Upper Merion Township’s violations of Hankin’s constitutional rights to develop 135 acres of land in King of Prussia. Hankin alleged that the Township acted improperly to prevent it from developing the property, and to depress its market value so the Township could acquire it, either through purchase or condemnation, at a fire sale price.

During discovery, Elliott Greenleaf lawyers discovered evidence spoliation by the township concerning the property. On January 6, 2012, the District Court denied the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment at Hankin Family Partnership, et al. v. Upper Merion Township, et al, Civil Action No. 01–1622, 2012 WL 43610 (E.D.Pa., 2012). The Court’s extensive analysis found that there were genuine issues of material fact for a jury to consider Hankin’s equal protection and its substantive due process claims under the Supreme Court’s “shock the conscience” standard.

Elliott Greenleaf’s litigation team consisted of John M. Elliott, Timothy T. Myers and Roger J. Harrington, Jr.

The Settlement Agreement, a public document, is attached here.