Real Estate

Real Estate & Land Use Litigation

Stites & Harbison attorneys regularly serve clients in local and regional matters ranging from foreclosure and mechanics liens to federal relocation law. Our litigators have developed particularly strong practices in eminent domain, land title defense, planning and zoning, and litigation involving the preservation of historic properties.


  • Martingale, LLC v. City of Louisville, 361 F.3d 297 (6th Cir. 2004), petition for reh'r denied, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 7789 (6th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 125 S. Ct. 453 (2004) and 151 S.W.3d 829 (Ky. App. 2004), motion for discretionary review denied, 2005 Ky. LEXIS 106 (Ky. 2005), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 955 (2005). In a case that could give rise to multiple law-school exam questions, our firm successfully represented the City of Louisville concerning its right to condemn a bridge (or at least the portion thereof which sits in Kentucky) which spans the Ohio River, but which connects to neither Kentucky nor Indiana. After prevailing regarding the City's right to condemn in state court and successfully defeating a federal action challenging the City's right to condemn, the City prevailed in the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit – in addition to successfully defending against a motion for discretionary review to the Kentucky Supreme Court, a petition for rehearing to the 6th Circuit, and two petitions for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Our firm is currently representing the City in the valuation portion of the condemnation proceeding.
  • The expansion of Louisville International Airport. Stites & Harbison has represented the Louisville Regional Airport Authority in an expansion that required the acquisition of three residential neighborhoods and more than 100 parcels of business real estate. Our Real Estate and Land Use Litigation Team participated in all phases of these acquisitions, including trials establishing the fair market value of properties that could not be acquired voluntarily. Team members were also responsible for all litigation involving the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act. Notable representations on this project include:
  • Welding & Therapy Service, Inc. v. Regional Airport Authority of Louisville and Jefferson County and James DeLong, General Manager, U.S. District Court, W.D. Ky. Welding & Therapy filed a complaint seeking review, pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, of the Airport Authority's determination regarding Welding & Therapy's claim for reimbursement under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act for expenses allegedly arising out of the Authority's acquisition of a portion of Welding & Therapy's property in connection with the Louisville Airport Improvement Program. Welding and Therapy's complaint also made a Section 1983 claim, alleging the Authority deprived Welding & Therapy of "... its rights under federal law." The Authority obtained dismissal of the Section 1983 count in 2003 and judgment on the Administrative Procedures Act claim in 2004.
  • Condemnation Actions. The firm recently succeeded in resolving one a condemnation action such matter in which our client received $1.2 million as compensation for the loss of business property the state had valued at $175,000.
  • Land Title Defense. Our firm represents title insurance companies in defending their insureds on a regional basis. Recent cases include:
    • Attempted recovery of over $2 million lost due to the loan fraud committed by a closing agent.
    • Resolved a number of claims of loan fraud involving a closing agent who improperly recorded documents, forged commitments and committed large scale fraud on the lender involved and on the title insurer.
    • Represented financial institutions in resolving issues of the priority of various liens in foreclosure actions, to enforce subordination agreements and to determine the interests of title holders when an ownership interest is not properly determined at a closing.
  • Planning and Zoning. The firm represents a wide range of clients in planning and zoning matters throughout its practice area. In addition to representing developers and property owners, team members also represent organizations, citizens’ groups, and individuals interested in "smart growth" issues.
  • Foreclosure. In conjunction with attorneys from our Creditors' Rights and Real Estate Practice groups, we represent lenders in foreclosure actions throughout the region. Typical situations have involved shopping centers, hotels, apartment complexes, and office buildings.
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Press Releases

Carolyn Purcell Michener Appointed to Fund for the Arts NeXtGen Board

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Fund for the Arts recently appointed Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Carolyn Purcell Michener to its NeXtGen Board. She will serve a three-year term.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC August 25, 2020
Client Alerts

The Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act

On August 12, 2020, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the COVID-19 Recovery Act (the “Act”), which was enacted into law by Governor Bill Lee’s signature on August 17, 2020.

by Michael B. Schwegler (Mike) August 18, 2020
Press Releases

Chambers USA 2020 Honors 19 Stites & Harbison Attorneys

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Chambers USA selected 19 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys in Kentucky and Tennessee for inclusion in their 2020 guide.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC May 05, 2020
Press Releases

Mid-South Commercial Law Institute Elects Erika Barnes to its Board of Directors

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Mid-South Commercial Law Institute (MSCLI) recently elected Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Erika Barnes as a director of its 25-member Board of Directors.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC March 25, 2020
Press Releases

Stites & Harbison elects three attorneys to Management Committee

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Stites & Harbison, PLLC recently elected three members to the firm’s six-member Management Committee, replacing three attorneys who completed their terms of service. The new committee members are attorneys Erika Barnes, Carol Dan Browning and Richard Wehrle.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC March 05, 2020
Client Alerts

State Comments on USDA’s Interim Final Rule Governing Hemp Production

The comment period for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interim Final Rule (IFR) has closed. Over 3,000 comments were submitted by farmers, companies, hemp industry associations, and state agriculture departments. Given their regulatory experience and the uniformity of their pushback, it seems likely that the USDA will be most receptive to the comments from the state agriculture agencies.

by Richard A. Vance February 12, 2020
Client Alerts

Into the Weeds of the USDA Hemp Regulations

The long-awaited hemp industry regulations have finally (mostly) dropped. At the end of October, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) finally issued its Interim Final Rule implementing the hemp-related provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“the 2018 Farm Bill”).

by Richard A. Vance and Grace E. L. Greenwell December 03, 2019
Press Releases

Morgan Ward appointed to Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorney Morgan Ward to serve on Louisville Metro Government’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC November 11, 2019