The cloak-and-dagger demolition of a Revolutionary War-era home that reportedly stood in the way of a highway expansion project has drawn a lawsuit from those who sought to protect the structure from a state wrecking ball.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, a historical society in Camden County, New Jersey claims that the March 3rd, 2017, demolition was done at dawn without notice and its court filing seeks a replica of the home, museum or monument erected in its place. The lawsuit names the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT), the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration as defendants. According to attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, it’s the State v. the Consumer-resident related litigation like this that needs strong representation in court to resolve such a serious dispute.
“The [New Jersey Department of Transportation] acted out of spite,” the president of the local historical society told an area newspaper at the time, adding that the demolition was a “despicable” move done in “the middle of the night.”
Previous reports indicate that the preservation efforts of the home, where a local militia captain lived during the Revolutionary War, were under way. What’s more, historical records show that revolutionaries did battle with British soldiers on the grounds during the war. However, a $900 million highway project immediately next to the property was also unfolding and the state DOT had deemed the property to not be historic, as numerous structural upgrades had been made in the centuries since its construction.
“There are stringent federal requirements that must be met to deem a structure historic. Despite assertions by some, the house failed to meet the criteria for the necessary historic associations,” a statement from the state’s DOT read in part.
While the Inquirer article notes that the DOT hasn’t responded to pending litigation, attorney Jeffrey Benjamin says this kind of sneaky, thief-in-the-night conduct begs to be heard in a Court of law. As a skilled trial attorney who has represented clients in the construction field of eminent domain and consumer protection before, Jeffrey Benjamin knows that certain adversaries in litigation can have many drastically disproportionate resources at their disposal than he does. Such a substantial and wide-ranging case as the one described here demands the right attorney aggressive enough to take on the juggernaut like a governmental entity with endless resources.