Robinson Bradshaw Secures Fifth Amendment Pro Bono Win at U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit



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June 29, 2023

The Federal Circuit yesterday issued an opinion in favor of Robinson Bradshaw’s client in a Fifth Amendment takings case raising issues of first impression for the Court.

Governments have pushed the boundaries of a narrow exception to the Takings Clause limiting the compensation available for some “police power” takings. Robinson Bradshaw represents the plaintiff who sued the federal government after it seized two of his cars with a search warrant, but failed to return them after it no longer had a valid investigative purpose. The lower court earlier ruled against the plaintiff, concluding that because the initial seizure was a valid exercise of the police power, there could be no taking. The plaintiff appealed the decision, and H. Hunter Bruton took on the case pro bono.

In a unanimous opinion, the Court of Appeals ruled for Robinson Bradshaw’s client and remanded the case for further proceedings. It explained that “[w]hile the United States’ police power may insulate it from liability for an initial seizure, there is no police power exception that insulates the Unites States from takings liability for the period after seized property is no longer needed for criminal proceedings.”

Robinson Bradshaw attorneys Lawrence C. Moore III, Erik R. Zimmerman and H. Hunter Bruton represent the plaintiff pro bono.

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