Harvey Cedars Couple Take $1 Settlement for Easement Lawsuit

After the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in July that a Harvey Cedars couple could not receive $375,000 in compensation for property seized for a federal beach replenishment project, Harvey and Phyllis Karan today received a $1 settlement stemming from their lawsuit. The Director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s Office Christopher Porrino told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider he hopes the outcome of the settlement will be that more homeowners along the coast will voluntarily provide easements going forward.

Porrino said the settlement means the Karans recognized the law changed with the July Supreme Court decision. “As a result, we reached a resolution here, which we believe speaks what ought to be a message to homeowners up and down the shore who have held out up to this point. We would encourage folks, and people will be given the opportunity, to provide easements voluntarily. If they decide not to provide them voluntarily, we’ll work in collaboration with the local communities,” he said.

In addition to the $1 settlement, the municipality is repaying the legal out of pocket expenses, but not the legal fees. Porrino explained that out of pocket expenses refer to money spent by a lawyer to retain an expert, pay for copies or pay for a court reporter to transcribe a deposition. He said he believes that payment was appropriate in this case because the law changed after the complaint was filed. He also said the Karans approached the resolution in good faith. “In this one circumstance we decided that an allocation of out of pocket expenses but not legal fees was appropriate,” he said.

Porrino said there haven’t been any proceedings that have started since the Supreme Court decision. “We hope that there will not need to be wholesale condemnation proceedings brought up and down the coast and that the vast majority of people again in the wake of this settlement and the decision by the Supreme Court will voluntarily come forward and donate the easements so these dunes can be built and the communities behind them protected,” he said.

If homeowners don’t voluntarily sign, Porrino said the state is prepared to take action. “The state will work in collaboration with the towns and take a leadership role to make sure that the easements that are not donated are taken and if litigation is necessary, we will file it,” he said.