By Ted Botha
Fisher Island, the elite retreat just off of Miami, set
record prices for real estate in 2012, so why are some realtors
unhappy? A web of legal disputes has prevented any new apartment
buildings from going up in five years, worrying real estate
brokers they will miss out on the current boom in luxury
properties, according to The New York Times.
The main dispute pits Georgian-American businessman Joseph
Kay, who took over the island's real estate assets and
development rights through a trust in 2004, against the family
of the Georgian billionaire Arkady Patarkatsishvili, who died
without a will in 2008. Kay, who was a cousin of the
billionaire's and handled his affairs, claims to have acquired
Fisher Island's assets with his money and placed them in the
trust for his own and his family's benefit. The Patarkatsishvili
family says that Kay was merely acting as an agent for
Patarkatsishvili, who provided him with the cash to buy the
island. Until the dispute is sorted out, any new development on
the 216-acre enclave is on hold.
The score so far weighs in the Patarkatsishvili clan's
favor. A district judge in Florida has ruled for them -- as have
courts in Gibraltar, England and Liechtenstein -- but investors
aligned with Kay are appealing, according to the Times. Vanity Fair has called the battle for Patarkatsishvili's money "one of
the biggest estate battles in history."
The Times says that Kay claimed in a wrongful-death suit
filed in New York that Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, with
the help of Patarkatsishvili's widow, killed Patarkatsishvili in
2008 with a hard-to-detect poison, but the case against her has
been dismissed. Earlier this month, AIG filed a foreclosure suit
against Kay's Fisher Island Holdings, which controls the
development rights on Fisher Island, for defaulting on a $76.7
Call to arms
By Dan Brillman
After the horrific school shooting in Newtown, the two most
talked about methods of gun control have been strengthening
current gun laws (including closing loopholes in background
checks) and banning assault weapons. A new Gallup poll (hat tip:
Wall Street Journal) shows that 58 percent of Americans want
stricter laws, up from 44 percent in 2011.
According to the 1,038-person poll, randomly conducted in
the days following Newtown, 44 percent of those respondents
support banning assault rifles, up from 43 percent last year and
down from 57 percent in 1996. Fifty-one percent are against such
a ban. In 2004, the year the assault weapons ban was allowed to
expire, 50 percent of Americans were for the measure, 46 percent
In the early 1990s, nearly 80 percent thought that gun laws
should be stricter. In 1959, 60 percent of Americans were in
favor of banning handguns. That has shriveled to 24 percent
today, its lowest level since that question was asked over 50
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
A day after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals halted a
controversial land swap needed for the construction of a
Colorado toll road, the court reversed itself and allowed the
$10 million deal to proceed, reports the Denver Post.
The land transfer involves a 617-acre parcel near the Rocky
Flats National Wildlife Refuge that will be used to create a
300-foot right-of-way to construct the road, reports The Boulder Daily Camera. The deal to create the road, intended to ease
traffic in the Denver metropolitan area, involved many
governmental agencies, and experts worry it might unravel if the
land does not exchange hands by Monday.
Two environmental groups, WildEarth Guardians and Rocky
Mountain Wild, oppose the swap and last year filed a lawsuit to
block it. The case was dismissed by a federal judge, and on
Wednesday the groups filed an emergency motion to block the deal
before the end of the year. After a new brief was filed by the
Department of Justice calling the deal a "once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity," the court reversed itself. The environmental
groups have until today to respond.
By Eileen Daspin
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals might have won a
lawsuit preventing Brasstown, North Carolina, from dropping a
live possum to the ground as a way of ushering in the New Year,
but the organizers of the annual event say the show will go on.
It just won't feature a live animal, reports the Citizen-Times.
For the last 19 years, Brasstown, Clay's Corner Store in
Brasstown has organized a New Year's Eve party that included the
midnight lowering of a possum, held in a box draped in tinsel,
to mark the passage of Father Time. The animal was then released
into the woods, as partiers, which last year numbered 3,000,
continued in their alcohol-free, blue-grass hoedown.
Once PETA got wind of the party, it sued the North Carolina
Wildlife Resources Commission to prevent the agency from issuing
a permit. Judge Fred Morrison agreed the event was cruel, noting
that "citizens are prohibited from capturing and using wild
animals for pets or amusement," according to the Citizen-Times.
But Clay Logan, owner of Clay's Corner, says he is undeterred
and will continue with the tradition, perhaps using a stuffed
possum or even roadkill. "We're not gonna break no laws," Logan
told Fox News.
Summary Judgments for December 27
Summary Judgments for December 26
Summary Judgments for December 24
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook