Federal Court Dismisses Challenge To California City’s Eminent Domain Plan

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On September 16, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed one of two suits filed recently by investors to preempt a California city’s plan to seize certain mortgages using the government’s eminent domain authority. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. City of Richmond, No. 13-3663, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Sept. 16, 2013). The court restated its decision reported last week that the mortgage investors’ claims were not ripe for action and further held that the case must be dismissed, instead of stayed, because the “[r]ipeness of the[] claims does not rest on contingent future events certain to occur, but rather on events that may never occur”—i.e. the city may not ever move forward with its seizure plan. The decision only addressed the timing of the suit, and did not reach the merits of the investors’ claims that the city’s plan, among other things, will violate the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause, Commerce Clause, and Contract Clause, as well as the state’s statutory prohibitions against extraterritorial seizures. A second similar action filed by a separate group of investors remains pending.


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