Robert A. Schreiber
- Eminent Domain
Eminent Domain & Civil Trial Attorney
My experience in representing both governmental entities and private property and business owners for over 27 years has enabled me to acquire the knowledge, insight and litigation experience to be a zealous advocate for any property or business owner.
I began my eminent domain career with the Florida Department of Transportation. I resigned as an attorney with a commercial litigation firm to supervise the eminent domain legal department at FDOT for all of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. In addition to my role as lead counsel in eminent domain jury trials representing the department, I also provided legal advice, counsel and strategy on appraisal matters, business valuation issues, pre-suit negotiations, offers of judgment and mediations. I was also responsible to provide factual and legal justification for any settlements including land valuation, severance damages, business damages, relocation benefits, advance acquisitions or surplus property issues. I acquired valuable knowledge with respect to strategy, issues and factors that may result in a favorable settlement as well as successful litigation strategy against governmental entities.
As the head of the litigation department, I retained and worked with many of the experts and appraisers that continue to represent government entities in condemnation matters. This experience can benefit property owner clients in many ways which I would be happy to discuss with you in detail. I also hired, trained and supervised many eminent domain lawyers, some of whom remained with government and some that are now in private practice representing owners.
During these early years of my eminent domain practice, I was often requested to be a speaker at seminars for other lawyers and appraisers. I spoke at a CLE seminar for Florida Lawyers on litigation strategy in condemnation jury trials and I was invited and spoke to appraisers at Appraisal Institute Seminars on eminent domain topics including strategy on being an effective witness. The Appraisal Institute is a governing body for appraisers and this experience provided additional opportunities for me to professionally associate with qualified expert witnesses.
I am the former vice-chair of the eminent domain committee of the Florida Bar and, of course, spoke before that committee of lawyers on several occasions. I have the preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell (AV) which is determined by a blind survey of other lawyers in this field of law.
I have been representing private property and business owners since 1993. During the last approximately 25 years, I have had the privilege to represent multinational corporations, real estate developers, franchise owners and operators, large and small hotels, warehouse facilities, storage facilities, automobile dealers, rental car companies (large and small), restaurants, night clubs, strip mall owners, owners of apartment buildings, condominium associations, condominium unit owners, owners of single family and multi-family residences, owners of vacant platted and unplatted land, farmers, tenants and many more. I have even represented lawyers as clients who owned property that was the subject eminent domain matters.
The vast majority of eminent domain matters settle prior to trial but I have litigated through jury verdict numerous cases through the years. I represented two clients through jury verdict where the verdict was over (one in Miami-Dade County and one in Palm Beach County) and many cases where the amount in controversy was several million dollars.
However, one of my most memorable and satisfying cases involved far less money. In my first jury trial after I resigned from FDOT (l had numerous eminent domain jury trials representing FDOT), I represented a group of single family vacant lot owners in the lower Florida Keys. The government claimed the platted lots had a value of less than $50,000 each even though the area had infrastructure (roads, electric and water service) because of its location and the difficulty in obtaining permits to develop the property. We asserted the lots were worth about double the value the government asserted. The government did not offer a settlement that was acceptable and we proceeded to trial. One of my clients was a school teacher in Monroe County and had invested a good portion of her life savings in the property in hopes of building her retirement home. The stakes for my clients (and therefore me) were high and the government, with its unlimited resources, were confidant and carefree. I effectively cross examined the government's appraiser that I had worked with for many years while a government attorney and established to the satisfaction of the jury that the appraiser was biased and neglected to consider sales and favorable attributes of the property that significantly enhanced the value. During deliberations, the jury asked the court if it could award more money than we requested !
In the most recent case I litigated through jury verdict, I represented as lead trial counsel (my former law partner was co-counsel) the owner of submerged property adjacent to Miami Beach. The government condemned a small portion of the property to construct a bridge (bisecting the property) connecting two roadways that had dead-ended to each side of the waterway. The government contended the property was essentially worthless and its appraiser, land planner, engineer and marine experts testified to a litany of reasons why the property could never be used or sold for any viable use. We offered evidence that similar property had sold and/or obtained permits for use as a private marina for adjacent residential units and effectively confronted the governments experts with inconsistencies in their reports and testimony. The jury awarded our client the amount we requested at trial, $855,000.00.
Every case is different and you should not assume that past results are any sort of guarantee of future results. I will not hesitate to recommend a settlement where I believe the offer is fair and the risk of trial outweighs the potential benefit. However, I am also not hesitant to have a jury decide the case where warranted. It is important that you retain an attorney that has the willingness to litigate your case through jury verdict and the experience to do so. It is also vital to consult with an experienced eminent domain attorney for pre condemnation planning. Many pre-suit issues including but not limited to lease provisions, zoning matters, tax appeals, tenancies, renovations and others can dramatically impact your compensation. I encourage clients to consult with me as soon as you are aware of the potential that a project may impact your property. You will never receive a bill from me no matter if the project never comes to bear, if your property is not impacted, or you decide to retain someone else.
I prepare each case to present to a jury. I believe that is the best way to achieve an advantageous settlement and, if a fair settlement is not obtained, we are prepared for trial. At the same time, I am well aware of the risks associated with a jury trial and I will always give you my best and candid assessment of your case.
During the last 25 years or so, I was "of counsel" in a large eminent domain firm (Brigham, Moore, Schuster & Merlin, P.A.) and then a name partner and co-owner of a small eminent domain firm for about 15 years (Hicks & Schreiber, P.A.). About three years ago, I decided that technology had advanced to permit me to work as a solo practitioner and to eliminate the need for a traditional office and all of the time consuming headaches associated with running an office. I have enjoyed providing my clients with my direct cell number and my email, I work with the same experts and I have the same resources available to me to prepare your case for trial. I no longer spend unnecessary time and energy on administrative matters and I do not have my clients communicate with younger lawyers or paralegals. I handle all of the legal work myself, I only have the assistance of a secretary for filing and minimal administrative matters.
I graduated from Florida State University College of Law in 1987 and was admitted to practice law in the State of Florida that same year. I graduated with Honors and wa a member of the FSU College of Law Moot Court team. I clerked for the Florida Supreme Court during my second year of law school and I worked for the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives during my final year of law school. I worked for a commercial litigation firm in Miami upon graduation, Floyd, Pearson, Richman, Greer, Zack & Brumbaugh, P.A. until my resignation to work at the FDOT.