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Court Vindicates Family's Property Rights

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms jury verdict in favor of WLF clients....

Chmielewskis' Home

Last week, the federal court of appeals affirmed a jury verdict in favor of the Chmielewski family against the City of St. Pete Beach.

Dune buffer protecting the Chmielewskis' privacy in their home from public events.

In the early 1970s, the Chmiewskis' purchased their beachfront home, just two doors down from the Don Cesar Hotel and behind a vacant building that was built for the original architect of the Don Cesar Hotel. It wasn't the most glamorous beachfront home. At the time, the Don Cesar was shut down and vacant.

But things got better when the Don Cesar was revived. Following that, the City of St. Pete Beach tool over the architect's building and invested money to refurbish it.

In order to capitalize on its investment, the City invited the general public to use the building as an access point to the beach, right in front of the Chmielewskis' house. That portion of the beach, however, was under a plat restriction for use of the Don CeSar subdivision owners only, and the Chmielewskis owned its land right down to the mean high water line.

The City didn't care, and continued to invite the general public for charity events, weddings, yoga classes. Even after the Chmielewskis established in court that had title to that property.

They filed an inverse condemnation action against the City and added a federal constitutional claim for the seizure of the land.

In October 2016, a federal jury awarded the Chmielewskis full compensation for the use of the land, plus other damages.

The City refused to satisfy the judgment and appealed.

On May 16, the federal court of appeals affirmed the jury's verdict on all issues before it.

Winegarnder Law is proud to have represented the Chmielewskis along with the rest of the legal team.

To read the full opinion, go here.

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