Florida Property Owner, Coy Koontz, Jr., Honored by Owners' Counsel of America for his Stalwart Stand for Property Rights

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Coy Koontz, Jr., the prevailing Petitioner in the Supreme Court property rights case Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, was given a national award for his efforts to protect private property rights.

Coy Koontz, Jr. (left) honored as a champion of property rights by James Burling (center) and Amy Brigham Boulris on behalf of the Owners' Counsel of America.

Coy Koontz, Jr. (left) honored as a champion of property rights by James Burling (center) and Amy Brigham Boulris on behalf of the Owners' Counsel of America.

My father started this fight 20 years ago and did not live to see the Supreme Court victory. I just hope the fight won’t outlive me.

On January 25, the Owners' Counsel of America, a network of the nation’s leading eminent domain attorneys, honored Coy A. Koontz, Jr. with the Crystal Eagle Award for the tenacity and commitment that he and his family exhibited in defending the right of private property ownership.

“My family and I have given up so much of our lives for this fight because we believe that owning your property ought to mean something – that the government can’t control you unreasonably,” Koontz, Jr. said of the still unsettled litigation with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

In 1994, Coy Koontz, Sr. initiated what has become a nearly 20-year legal battle through the Florida courts. Central in the case is the common exercise of government permitting power. Koontz, Sr. died in 2000, before seeing justice, and his son continued the battle all the way to the nation’s highest court.

In resounding 5-4 victory last June, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Koontz had a claim for a constitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment’s “takings clause.” In Koontz v. St. Johns Water River Management District, 568 U.S. _ (2013), the Supreme Court held that when government engages in land-use regulation, it must show that there is an “essential nexus” and “rough proportionality” between its permitting demands upon the landowner and the effects of the proposed use. The Court found that these standards apply not only to exactions for land as a condition for land use permits but also to the government's demand for money in exchange for permitting - even if the permit is ultimately denied.

“My father started this fight 20 years ago and did not live to see the Supreme Court victory, explained Koontz. “I just hope the fight won’t outlive me.” Yet, despite their success in the Supreme Court, the battle is not over. The case has been returned to the Florida courts for a final determination.            

Annually, the Owners’ Counsel of America presents the Crystal Eagle Award to an individual who has made a substantial contribution toward protecting the civil right of property ownership, explained Andrew Prince Brigham, a Jacksonville-based eminent domain attorney and the Florida member of Owners’ Counsel.

“This year, we are honored to celebrate Coy Koontz, Jr., his wife, Linda, and the entire Koontz family for their courage and strength throughout this marathon battle against the St. Johns River Water Management District. By standing up against government overreach and overregulation, the Koontz family has bolstered property rights for all Americans.”

ABOUT OWNERS' COUNSEL OF AMERICA (OCA):

The Owners’ Counsel of America is a nationwide network of experienced eminent domain attorneys dedicated to protecting the rights of private property owners large and small, locally and nationally, and to furthering the cause of property rights. The lawyers affiliated with OCA are in private practice in nearly every state and represent landowners against federal, state, and local governments, utilities, redevelopment authorities and other entities that may possess the power of eminent domain or engage in land-use regulation. OCA filed an amicus brief in support of the Koontz family in Koontz v. St. Johns Water River Management District, 568 U.S. _ (2013). For more information or to locate an eminent domain lawyer in your state, please visit http://www.ownerscounsel.com.

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Catherine Newman
@OwnersCounsel
since: 02/2013
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