Murphy family wins $644K judgment in Bay harbor suit
By Dwayne Bremer
Aug 19, 2014, 20:40
A Hancock County jury on Monday awarded brothers Ray, Ken, and Audie Murphy $644,000 after it found the secretary of state's office took their Beach Blvd property without authorization.
The city of Bay St. Louis, which was a co-defendant in the case, was found not liable.
"My clients are very pleased with the jury's decision," Murphy attorney Paul Scott said Tuesday. "This lawsuit was not about the harbor. It was about taking someone's property without compensation. We have been saying all along that the Murphys owned this property."
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 trial got under way last Tuesday and did not conclude until Monday.
"It was a long process," Scott said. "The main thing is that 12 Hancock County residents heard all of the facts and made a decision off of those facts."
The two major points of contention in the case were if the Murphys owned the entire property and how much it was worth.
During testimony, an appraiser for the Murphys testified that land maps and deeds showed they owned more than 14,000 square feet of property from Beach Blvd. to the water's edge. The defense tried to show that state Tidelands laws excluded most of what the Murphys were claiming as their property.
The Murphys had asked the jury to award $800,000 in damages.
"The verdict verifies what we have been saying all along," Scott said. "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. Nobody ever said anything about it until after Hurricane Katrina."
The city claimed that it was not liable for any damages because it is merely leasing the disputed property from the state.
Pam Weaver, the spokeswoman for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, said Tuesday that her office does not have a comment on the verdict at this time.