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Precedent Set in Water Rights, 5th Amendment "Taking" Victory;  Bedford, Van Zandt serve as lead counsel (June 11, 2008)

CA (June 11, 2008)—After 17 years, the estates of Wayne and Jean Hage can finally claim a Fifth Amendment precedent-setting "Takings" victory in an epic battle between the federal government and an American ranching family. The United States Federal Court issued a final opinion on Friday, June 6, 2008; ending the decades long battle by deciding that the federal government indeed took the private property rights of Wayne and Jean Hage awarding them deserved compensation. 

In the case of Hage v. United States, the court ruled that the Hages owned the water rights and the 1866 ditch rights of ways on federal grazing allotments, and the range improvements the Hage's constructed on the federal lands. The court ruled that although the government has the right to authorize grazing and cancel grazing permits, it does not have the right to prevent the ranchers from accessing their water rights on federal land. It found that regulatory and physical taking occurred, and therefore the government owes the estates of Wayne and Jean Hage just compensation in the amount of 4.2 million plus attorney's fees. In addition, they were also awarded interest on this amount going back nearly 17 years roughly equaling an additional $4.4 million. 

Ladd Bedford, the attorney for the Hage family who has been involved with the case from its inception, is one of 12 attorneys who joined Hanson Bridgett on June 16 when the law firm of McQuaid Bedford & Van Zandt LLP closed its doors. The decision came down prior to the MBVZ attorneys joining Hanson Bridgett on June 16. Mr. Bedford says, "There is now a deterrent to the federal agencies that if they deny ranchers access to their water rights and range improvements on the federal allotments, they could owe the rancher just compensation." 

Mike Van Zandt, who also joined Hanson Bridgett commented, "This is an important water rights victory and it is truly a little guy against the unlimited resources of the U.S. Government." 

Ruth Agee, the second of five Hage children says, "This is a clear victory for my parents, who never gave up." 

Wayne and Jean are both buried on private meadows at Pine Creek Ranch, which will remain with the family. 

Mr. Bedford and Mr. Van Zandt joined Hanson Bridgett LLP along with 10 additional lawyers from McQuaid, Bedford & Van Zandt LLP. These talented attorneys excel in the areas of real estate, land use, water, and natural resources law and are an ideal complement to Hanson Bridgett and its thriving practice. 

Hanson Bridgett Public Relations: 

P: 415-995-5192, F: 415-541-9366 

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Hanson Bridgett is a law firm with more than 150 attorneys in offices in San Francisco, Sacramento, the North Bay, Silicon Valley and the East Bay. Serving clients since 1958, we are well known in Northern California and have earned a national reputation in many of our practice areas.

Our diverse client list includes large national and global companies as well as many governmental entities, regional businesses and individuals. While we keep true to our California roots, our work increasingly takes us across state and national borders.

Michelle Klopp
Hanson Bridgett LLP
425 Market Street, 26th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

415-995-5075 Direct Phone
415-541-9366 Fax

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