Trial begins for family suing city of BSL, Secretary of State
By Dwayne Bremer
Aug 13, 2014, 08:59
A long-awaited trial over property compensation on Beach Blvd. in Bay St. Louis began Tuesday in Hancock County Circuit Court.
Bothers Ray, Ken, and Audie Murphy filed suit against the city of Bay St. Louis and the Secretary of State's office in April 2012.
The Murphys, who owned the property where Dan B's was located prior to Hurricane Katrina, claim that the city and state took their property without compensation when construction of the municipal harbor began in 2012.
"The state took my clients property and then leased property to the city that they did not own," Murphy attorney Paul Scott said during opening arguments on Tuesday. "Beach front property is valuable property. They should be required to pay just compensation."
Scott told the jury that he believes the property the Murphys owned was worth $800,000 and asked that his clients be awarded that amount.
He said land records and history will show the Murphy's owned the property.
"The Murphy family has owned this property since the '80s," Scott said. "They have used it, maintained it, and it has been under their control."
Attorney Hugh Keating, who represents Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, said Tuesday that he feels the lawsuit is a money grab.
"I kind of get the feeling that this is one of those cases where someone wants something for nothing," Keating said. "They have to prove they are the rightful owners. If they cannot, then they have no case."
Keating said there is question about the Murphy's title to some of the property and said they were already paid more than $400,000 for property during the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers road-widening and seawall projects.
Keating said the state contends that much of the property the Murphys are claiming is considered Public Trust property and is therefore property of the state.
He said the burden of proving ownership of the property will fall on the Murphys.
Attorney Donald Rafferty is representing Bay St. Louis. The city has maintained that it is leasing the property from the state and it has not caused the Murphys any damages.
The trial is expected to continue on Wednesday. Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson is presiding over the case.