Damon Key Celebrates Thirtieth Anniversary of Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Victory


What do you call a court opinion that has been cited by 627 other courts, expressly followed in 42 cases, distinguished in 24 others, and has been cited 1,041 times in law reviews and 147 times in legal treatises?

We call it a landmark. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Kaiser Aetna v. United States, a truly landmark case, argued and won by Damon Key attorneys Charlie Bocken and Diane Hastert.

On behalf of the developer of Hawaii Kai, Charlie and Diane took on the federal government and overturned over a century of seemingly adverse precedent. Kaiser Aetna was the first modern case finding a “regulatory taking,” which required the government to pay compensation if it wanted to open private property to public access.

Lawyers who practice property, eminent domain, or navigation law know this as the case in which the majority opinion, authored by Justice William Rehnquist, held that the navigational servitude is not a blanket exception to the Takings Clause, and just because a waterway is subject to regulation does not mean it is

open to public access.

Our firm knows this as the standard by which we have consistently measured ourselves: a case that looked difficult and required creative thinking and determined lawyering to resolve.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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