Contamination, Underwater Mortgages, and the IRWA Annual Education Conference

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Along with my colleagues Brad Kuhn, Ben Rubin, and Katherine Contreras, I'm here in Hartford at the IRWA Annual Education Conference.  It's been an interesting few days as we discuss eminent domain issues in the shadow of New London, Connecticut, battle ground of the infamous Kelo decision.  

I spoke yesterday on a panel moderated by Orell Anderson, alongside attorneys Jim Ray and Jeff Pollack.  Our topic involved how contamination issues are handled in litigation.  It was a great session, even though it did not go at all as we planned it.  The extremely engaged audience consumed nearly the entire two hours with thought-provoking questions, meaning we only got through about four of our scripted "questions" that Orell planned to ask us.  

Still, the dynamic, international audience made for a fun session, and I'm pretty sure I learned as much as anyone as we went through the discussion.  (I mean, who knew that in Mexico, when an oil pipeline in an easement leaks, the underlying landowner bears the responsibility for it.)  

Tomorrow, I'm leading a session on the condemnation of underwater mortgages.  It turns out that while the failed effort in Richmond, California definitely had a chilling effect, there are still jurisdictions pursuing a plan to condemn underwater mortgages, especially here on the East Coast.  (Note that Hartford itself has the highest rate of underwater mortgages in the country, at around 55%.)  

I'm hoping tomorrow's audience is as engaged as yesterday's, and Kevin Donahue and I can lead another spirited discussion -- the likes of which can only happen with the type of audience that the IRWA Annual Conference generates.  More after the session.

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