Court Awards Couple $18,000,000 For City’s Land Grab. Largest In State History

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.

City of SeaTac LogoIn a significant judgment against the City of SeaTac, Washington in a property rights case a King County Superior Court judge awarded Gerry and Kathy Kingen $18.3 million after what the court described as “a pattern of deception that lasted years.”

The trouble for the couple began in 2003 when they purchased land in the vicinity of Sea-Tac Airport with the intent to develop the land into a Park-and-Fly garage. Immediately after bringing notice to the city of their plans the city council declared a moratorium on the construction of these garages and engaged in tactics to hinder the couple’s investment until, according to court documents, they were forced under duress to sell the property to a “phantom buyer” who was later determined to be a surrogate for the city.


After learning of the surrogate buyer, the Kingens decided to pursue legal action against the city.

The couple and their development company filed a lawsuit in 2012. After a three-week trial the jury awarded the pair $9.6 million in damages. The judge added to the award by increasing the damages to include attorney fees and interest, bringing the total to $18.3 million.

The Kingens stated the ordeal was very costly in terms not only financial in nature but personal.

They robbed us of our lives, literally it became all-consuming for a long period of time.”

To add to the city’s troubles the Court concluded that the City also violated the Public Records Act which attracted the attention of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, an NGO that has sued government agencies for such violations. Coalition President Toby Nixon stated: “They tried to sneak around in the shadows and tried to take the property in an inappropriate way. You have to do it in the right way, you have to do it openly and [in an] accountable way that builds trust, that holds public trust and not abuse the trust.”

Of course, the City appealed the judgment. But there are many other forms of justice that likely will rain down. The City’s insurance carrier fled paperwork with the court countering that it is not mandated to indemnify the City since the court found that there was deception involved on the part of city officials.

Surely the matter will continue for years to come given the past behavior by the City. But it is a victory for property rights nonetheless.

By Darren Smith



The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

55 thoughts on “Court Awards Couple $18,000,000 For City’s Land Grab. Largest In State History”

  1. randyjet exposes the mind-warping effects of progressivism. Democrat’s abuse of power must be justified..;somehow. Republican’s abuse of power must be condemned…somehow. Well done!

  2. Imminent domain is supposed to be for the public good. (roads, libraries, schools, hospitals) The politicians got the idea that public good included kick backs ( to the government) and increased tax revenue from a commercial enterprise. This was out of control in San Diego when they would shut down a family business so the City could arrange a sale to a hotel developer that would provide greater tax revenue. Small towns changed language in their charters to prevent it.

  3. I see that we have a problem with facts here. How much money did the couple lose when they sold the property? I think that they probably MADE money since the article and Darren refuse to provide that FACT. It is also the right of a city to zone and limit development in its purview. They are lucky that they don’t live in Texas since such laws as they successfully sued under are not in existence and/or are not enforced. The GOP in Texas made a lot of noise about passing a constitutional amendment to not allow the state to take property by eminent domain for private commercial interests, but then put in the loophole that ALL entities that currently can take property from citizens can do so and transfer title to private companies for their profit. That means that oil and pipeline companies have superior rights to the rest of us. Guv Perry and the GOP made it worse, when they were pushing for the transtexas corridor rail and highway. They explicitly stripped access to the courts for property owners prior to the development, and the property owners had to take ANY offer from the developer. The small folks had NO rights whatsoever. That is the standard operating procedure now in our one party GOP state.

  4. Tricks of the trade are easements & eminent domain executed by an LLC to hide real identity of person. Slum lords do this all the time. If you don’t take action, then you probably won’t know where your next meal is coming from.

  5. At the heart is the idea that a corporation ( city ) is a person and the persons in the corporation can not be personally held responsible. ( jail )

  6. Trump said that lie about Hillary back at Trump Tower in June. “Hillary and Monica, sitting in a tree…”

  7. I agree Autumn. In all cases where the citizens have to sue the government, the government’s legal defense is funded by the very taxpayers that are suing them. If the citizen wins, their award is again coming from the taxpayers. Am I missing something where this is not so? There is no mention that there is any individual legal liability or accountability on the part of the government. If people are not held to account for this abuse and the penalty is only shouldered by the taxpayers, then there is no deterrence for further abuses other than the vote.

    Abuse of power seems to be the major weakness of our system of government. Once elected, these public servants seem untouchable if their colleagues decide to protect them. The only recourse for the citizen is the vote and the courts which the government has deeper pockets than the private citizen.

    Bring back tar and feathers!

  8. All member of the city council need to be removed. How about some criminal charges. It sounds like the conspired to defraud.

  9. It is heartening to see property rights upheld. Eminent domain is the governments entree into becoming a dictatorship. It must be kept on a short leash.

  10. I agree with Autumn. Public officials should be held personally liable for abuse of the office they hold.

  11. Must be an abuse of eminent domain. The government is a very tough entity to fight.

  12. The Green River Killer picked most of his victims from the Sea-Tac Strip near the Sea-Tac Airport.

  13. Isn’t SEA-TAC where all the prostitutes were killed? Maybe they are afraid it is a dumping ground.

  14. An email found on Cloud 9 from Trump says that he is going to accuse Hillary of having sex with someone other than Bill. “Guess who?” the email says. This will be coming to a theatre near you.

  15. Can the taxpayers personally sue (as a class action) the government representatives who caused this debacle? Criminal liability for fraud?

    Thanks Darren for presenting this.

  16. Wow! I am glad that couple won, but who is paying for this? The taxpaying citizens. Again, we see there is 0 accountability for the city workers who were the phantom buyers.

  17. Would not be surprised if the city want the property to do the same thing, and then financialize it, so it could be sold to a crony or two for the income stream. There will be a lot of that in the upcoming years as the municipal pension plans start to belly up, and bondholders get more nervous.

    You can’t get blood from a turnip, and Americans are already sprouting leaves. The average family can’t lay their hands on $500 IIRC.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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