A Passion For Property Rights, A $10.5M Check For Tire Maker

By: Daily Business Review

When the Florida Department of Transportation wanted to annex Bridgestone Aircraft Tires Inc.’s Miami facility to expand state roads, the company wasn’t going to give up its 3.3-acre property without a fight.

The tire manufacturing facility needed to establish a factory in a new location before it lost its old one. And that new facility needed certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

So the company hired attorney Mark Tobin, a partner at Brigham Moore in Coral Gables, which focuses on repre­senting property owners in eminent domain cases.

Tobin helped settle the case for $10.5 million – nearly 250 percent of what FDOT initially offered. In addition, this set­tlement enabled Bridgestone to stay in its current location near Miami International Airport until at least June 2007, as it pre­ pares to move to Mayodan, N.C.

“It is extraordinarily challenging, because we didn’t want the patient to die on the table,” Tobin said of the case. “We were very careful and committed to ensuring the transition would be smooth so [Bridgestone] would have no interrup­tion in its business.”

Bridgestone remanufactures used tires for commercial airlines and the military.

In September 2005, FDOT filed its takings case against Bridgestone in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The department offered Bridgestone $3.8 million for the facility, which has more than 46,000 square feet of enclosedspace situated on the 3.3-acre site.

FDOT wanted to use the land for its interchange improvement project at State Roads 826 and 836.

In June, Bridgestone agreed to accept FDOT’s offer of $10.5 million. In addition, the government is paying $1.4 million in attorney fees and to help pay for Bridgestone’s relocation. Judge Maria Espinosa Dennis entered the final judgment on Oct. 6.

According to Tobin, Bridgestone will pay FDOT a reduced rent as it transi­tions into its new facility.

Tobin, a 43-year-old University of Miami law school graduate, said one of the most challenging parts of the deal was finding reliable and current market data to demonstrate the facility’s high value. Tobin has been with Brigham Moore in Coral Gables for his entire legal career, joining the firm in 1987. He sees his emi­nent domain work as a personal cause.

“There are very few issues as funda­mental to our freedom as being able to own property,” Tobin said. “When oppressive regimes fall, one of the first things you hear about is giving citizens the right to own private property. [That freedom] is precious and worth protecting.”

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