Manley Burke - 225 West Court Street - Cincinnati, OH 45202 - Tel: 513-721-5525

Representative Cases

Land Use Matters

We have represented a variety of property owners in obtaining rezonings and other development approval for a wide variety of projects both small and large. Some examples include:

  • In Hamilton County we represented CSX Properties, a subsidiary of the CSX Railroad in pursuing the rezoning of a large former railroad switchyard to a commercial development site. It was ultimately rejected by the Hamilton County Commissioners. We filed suit against Hamilton County for denying the rezoning and were ultimately able to obtain a court-approved settlement granting the rezoning.
  • In Cincinnati, we represented the University of Cincinnati in obtaining a rezoning to allow the construction of a new steam generation power plant. This rezoning was approved by Cincinnati City Council over significant community objection.  Among other things, we were able to convince Council that the University of Cincinnati, as a state institution, could probably win litigation against the City if the zone change was denied.
  • We represented Bethesda, Inc., the operator of a number of hospitals and medical facilities, in pursuing a major modification to the zoning code in the City of Montgomery.  Twenty-five years previously, when the Bethesda North Hospital was built, the City of Montgomery placed very restrictive setbacks of up to 700 feet on hospital facilities. We assisted in obtaining substantial modifications to those setbacks and setting significantly greater flexibility for the Hospital to plan its future growth while still providing protection to nearby residents.
  • In the City of Strongsville, in northern Ohio, we pursued a rezoning for the developer of a large multi-family housing project. The rezoning was denied by the municipality. We successfully challenged that denial in the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County. While the trial court result was overturned in the Court of Appeals, the litigation lasted long enough so that a settlement could be negotiated and the property sold at a handsome profit to the developer.
  • We represented ATS (the former Western Union company) in a dispute with the City of Cincinnati over access to underground utility lines. This dispute involved a 100-year old franchise agreement and the federal court lawsuit we filed ultimately resulted in a settlement with the City of Cincinnati which gained for ATS the approvals which it needed.
  • We represented Kravco and the Equitable Life Assurance Company of America, the operator and the owner, respectively, of Tri-County Mall, a large suburban shopping mall in northern Hamilton County in successfully obtaining a zone change which allowed for the doubling in size of that shopping center. At the same time, we successfully represented the companies in opposing a rezoning for a competing shopping center close by.
  • We represented the Sisters of Charity in a rezoning necessary to provide for the construction of a new senior citizen complex, including independent living, assisted living and traditional nursing care facilities. We obtained approval for the rezoning from the Delhi Township Trustees and then were able to defeat in an administrative hearing before the Hamilton County Board of Elections a rezoning referendum which would have taken away the rezoning.
  • We have represented the City of Norwood, Ohio in numerous land use matters, including the redevelopment agreements which resulted in a very successful redevelopment of the former General Motors Plant. That redevelopment included a new high quality Class A office building, as well as mixed use retail and flex space.  
  • We also negotiated the redevelopment agreement for the former LeBlond Machine Tool Plant site which was converted into a highly successful retail complex. The LeBlond redevelopment was so successful that a second phase, under a separate redevelopment agreement negotiated by us for the City has just been completed. That development, Rookwood Commons, includes a 160,000 square foot office building and a highly popular retail center.
  • We represented the City of Milford, Ohio in several complicated land use matters, including the successful defense of the City's decision to deny a planned unit development approval for a project that would have added more than 400 new dwelling units to the City. We also prepared Milford's Urban Renewal Plan.
  • In the Village of Lockland, on behalf of the Village, we assisted in the negotiation of the first Brownfield Redevelopment in the State of Ohio. That project has subsequently drawn significant statewide and national attention.
  • We represented a small business that desired to open a beverage drive thru on the site of a vacant fast food restaurant. Our client demolished the vacant building and prepared to build a new facility when the City of Cincinnati imposed an ordinance that purported to deny the right to a building permit. Subsequently, when that ordinance expired without any zone change, the City adopted a new ordinance, literally while our client was standing in the Building Department to process its permit application. Our lawsuit ultimately obtained the building permit and the subsequent settlement recovered damages and attorney fees.
  • We represented Somerford Township in Madison County in successfully defending its agricultural zoning, designed to preserve farmland, in the 12th District Court of Appeals.
  • We were brought in by Congress Township and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office after a fireworks company desiring to open a fireworks store on property zoned Residential Agricultural had won a decision in the 9th District Court of Appeals declaring Congress Township Zoning invalid. We appealed that case to the Ohio Supreme Court and reversed that decision, clarifying the townships could rely on a county comprehensive plan in developing local zoning. (B.J. Alan Co. v. Congress Twp. Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 124 Ohio St.3d 1, 2009 – Ohio – 5863.)  
  • On behalf of Hilltop Basic Resources, a large sand and gravel company, we sued the City of Cincinnati when it refused to grant access to a public roadway.  That refusal made Hilltop's property unusable. Suit was filed directly in the First District Court of Appeals for an order requiring the City of Cincinnati to acquire Hilltop's property. We were successful in obtaining that order and while the City of Cincinnati filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, we were able to settle with the City, obtaining $5,000,000.00 for the property owner, an amount equal to the contract it had to sell the property to the buyer who was denied access to the public right-of-way. (State ex rel. Hilltop Basic Resources, Inc. v. Cincinnati, 167 Ohio App.3d 798, 2006 – Ohio – 3348.)
  • On behalf of the owners of residential property whose property was repeatedly impacted by raw sewage discharges into the creek running through their property, we sued the Metropolitan Sewer District seeking an order requiring their property be acquired by the City of Cincinnati, which operates the sewer district. The City of Cincinnati initially prevailed in the Court of Appeals where the case was originated as a mandamus action, but the Ohio Supreme Court ultimately reversed that decision and the City was ordered to acquire the property. The matter of the compensation to be paid is now pending. (State ex rel. Gilbert v. Cincinnati, 125 Ohio St.3d 385, 2010 – Ohio – 1473.)

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Local Government Representation

  • Our attorneys currently serve as the Law Directors of the Villages of Lockland, Evendale, Amelia and Bethel.
  • We developed the first Planned Unit Development zoning regulations for the City of Fairfield.
  • We represented the City of Fairfield in Gerijo, Inc. v. City of Fairfield, 70 Ohio St.3d 223 (1994). The City had refused to rezone a large tract of land to allow a multi-family development because of a policy seeking to balance the number of single-family and multi-family homes in the community. Manley, Burke & Lipton was retained by Fairfield after the city had lost its attempt to defend its land use plan and zoning code in the trial court. The Ohio Supreme Court ultimately sided with Fairfield and upheld the right of the City to refuse a rezoning for apartments in order to maintain a reasonable housing ratio within the community.
  • We maintain an ongoing relationship with the Villages of Glendale and have frequently been called on to handle their civil law matters.
  • We have an ongoing relationship with the City of Norwood where we have handled many of their development issues in recent years, including the reuse of the GM plant site. We successfully negotiated contracts with both General Motors and a developer for the redevelopment of that site, and that is now underway. We served in the same capacity with regard to the LeBlond property. The reuse of these two abandoned industrial sites is leading to the economic rebirth of the City.  More recently, we negotiated the Redevelopment Agreement for the Rookwood Commons, which adds hundreds of new jobs to the Norwood economy bringing dozens of high-end retail shops and restaurants and a new Class A mid-rise office tower to the City.
  • On behalf of the Village of Lockland, we sued Erving Paper Mills when it closed its Fox Paper Plant in Lockland in violation of a contract with the Village that we had previously negotiated. A settlement resulted in a payment of more than one million dollars to the Village of Lockland.
  • We have completed comprehensive revisions of the zoning codes of the City of Norwood and the Village of Lockland, Ohio.
  • We served as special counsel to other units of local government such as Glendale, Xenia, Montgomery and Warren County, Ohio in developing portions of their zoning codes and land use ordinances.
  • We have served as special counsel to the City of Lebanon with respect to several annexation proceedings, including two controversial annexations which resulted in litigation, one of which was ultimately decided in favor of Lebanon by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Similarly, we served as Special Counsel to the City of Loveland in a 2009 annexation of the property on which the Loveland High School is located.
  • We acted as special trial counsel to the City of Independence, Kentucky in a complex legal action against the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • We served as special counsel to Little Miami, Inc. (LMI) in convincing the federal and state governments to allocate two million dollars to acquire fifty miles of the old Penn Central Railroad as a recreational trail along the river. We also worked with LMI to develop scenic river zoning controls in a number of political subdivisions through which the river flows. We continue to represent LMI on numerous issues, including fee title and conservation easement acquisitions designed to protect a corridor of green along the river, which was Ohio's first National and State Scenic River.
  • We represented Cleveland in a major piece of litigation against its neighbor Brook Park over the expansion of the Cleveland Airport. The settlement of the litigation cleared the way for the growth of the airport.
  • We served as special counsel to the Village of North Bend, a small community along the Ohio River to the west of Cincinnati. We drafted legislation to allow the Village to successfully deal with a large planned golf course community that will more than double the number of households in the Village. We continue to work with the Village as additional phases are submitted by the developer.
  • We developed urban renewal plans for numerous municipalities including Milford, Wilmington, Wyoming, Lockland, Norwood and Fairfield.
  • We represented an owner of industrial property in Dayton who is challenging the City's zoning restrictions purportedly intended to protect the City's water table but which severely impacts on the ability to expand his business operations. The matter ultimately settled.
  • We represent the tiny Village of Lockbourne, which has less than 300 residents. The large City of Columbus sued to acquire by eminent domain an interest in property owed by Lockbourne. We recently obtained a court order dismissing Columbus' suit for failing to comply with Ohio law on eminent domain.

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Labor & Employment Law Experience

We have extensive experience in labor representation, including contract negotiations, employee benefits and workers compensation. We also represent individuals in employment-related matters.

  • Our attorneys represent a diverse cross-section of labor organizations in labor negotiations, arbitration, NLRB proceedings, and in state and federal court.
  • We represent individual workers before the EEOC, OCRC and Civil Rights Commission, as well as in state and federal court, in a variety of employment discrimination and wrongful discharge claims.

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Community Representation

We have been involved in scores of major development controversies involving the government decision-making process. We have represented developers as well as more than 120 community groups.

  • We represented a group of Kennedy Heights residents in successfully suing both the City of Cincinnati and the Kroger Company to stop the construction of a Kroger superstore in mid-stream until conditions our clients desired were met.
  • We represented the 900 residents of the Valley Homes Housing Cooperative in the City of Lincoln Heights, Ohio in obtaining, through special Congressional legislation, forgiveness of the housing cooperative's mortgage with the Government National Mortgage Association. This prevented the government from foreclosing on this owner occupied housing. (This legislation was part of the Housing and Community Development Act adopted by the 96th Congress.)
  • We challenged, on behalf of a group of residents, an illegal use of federal grant funds by the Hamilton County Commissioners and the Colerain Township Trustees, successfully halting the proposed project and recovering attorneys' fees from the County.
  • We represented a small neighborhood group, the Sayler Park Village Council, in successfully stopping a 40 million dollar Continental Grain processing plant from being built in a location opposed by the neighborhood.
  • On behalf of the Columbia Tusculum Community Council, we convinced the City of Cincinnati to halt the operation of a high volume Sohio Chemical Company benzene pipeline until a negotiated settlement was reached on safety and operating conditions and financial concessions were made to our client. (Unfortunately, this settlement ultimately collapsed when the railroad cars carrying the first shipment of benzene leaked.) This case involved more than 30 public hearings.
  • We served as special counsel to Little Miami, Inc. in assembling two million dollars worth of state and federal funds and convincing the State of Ohio to acquire 50 miles of Penn Central Railroad right-of-way for conversion to a recreational trail along the Little Miami River.
  • In a case in which we served as co counsel with attorneys for the National Trust for Historic Preservation we obtained an order requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act. This suit, which blocked a coal dock from impacting on the historic Anderson Ferry, required a successful presentation before the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as well as major federal court litigation. Ultimately, the court ordered the Corps to pay approximately $60,000 in legal fees.

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Eminent Domain Experience 

  • We obtained a 13.6 million dollar jury verdict in an eminent domain case brought by the City of Cincinnati against our clients, the owners of a vacant department store in downtown Cincinnati. The City's expert testified that the property was only worth one million dollars.
  • When the City of Cincinnati denied our client and the purchaser of our clients' property the right to access a public road at the only place where the property had access to a public street we filed a mandamus action in directly in the First District Court of Appeals. That suit succeeded in requiring the City to file an eminent domain action to acquire all of our clients' site. While the appeal of the case to the Ohio Supreme Court was pending we negotiated a settlement with the City by which the City paid approximately $5,000,000 for the property, the same price for which our client had a contract to sell to its property to a private purchaser before the City denied access.
  • We represented the Scripps Howard Corporation in connection with the acquisition of property in the vicinity of its WCPO-TV studio for the Cincinnati Convention Center expansion. This required the negotiation of municipal funding for construction of a variety of improvements, including the construction of a signal receiving room in the Convention Center itself for WCPO which prevents interference with television broadcasting.
  • We handled the largest inverse condemnation case in Hamilton County which resulted in Hamilton County paying over $800,000 to a property owner for a leaking sewer that encroached upon our client's property. This case went to the Court of Appeals of Hamilton County five times. It was in the Ohio Supreme Court twice.
  • We represented the owners of the Alms & Doepke Building in its disputes with Hamilton County, ultimately negotiating termination of the dispute by selling the Alms & Doepke Building to Hamilton County for use for County purposes. The eminent domain case which fixed the value of the property resulted in a six and a half-million dollar jury verdict, more than a million dollars higher than the County's last offer, and, with interest, produced an award of almost eight million dollars.
  • We represented several of the property owners here in Cincinnati whose land was acquired for the construction of the new Paul Brown (Bengals) Football Stadium. The two major cases both settled during trial. The property owners were paid more than twice the money the County had offered prior to trial commencing.
  • We represented the Batsakes Family Trust, owner of the building containing the famous Cincinnati hat dealer and laundry, whose building the City acquired for the construction of the new Contemporary Arts Center in Downtown Cincinnati. Prior to trial we negotiated a final settlement satisfactory to all parties.
  • We represented the City of Cleveland in a huge eminent domain battle with the City of Brook Park. Cleveland acquired a large former tank plant adjacent to Greater Cleveland Airport for future airport expansion. The City of Brook Park, where the tank plant is located, filed an eminent domain action against the City of Cleveland seeking to acquire the plant in order to prevent airport expansion.
  • We represented CVS Drugstores and Rookwood Properties in attempting to prevent the City of Cincinnati from illegally taking one drugstore in downtown Cincinnati and replacing it with another drugstore.
  • We represented a business that operated a parking lot and lottery sales operation.  Its property was taken by the City of Cincinnati for highway purposes. The City proposed to pay $665,000.00 for the property. The jury awarded our clients $4,500,000.00.
  • We represented the University of Cincinnati and the State of Ohio in acquiring the property for the University's Conference Center/Hotel and the Microbiology Building.
  • We represented the owner of the historic Dickerson Building in Newport, Kentucky in an eminent domain matter brought by the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK). The acquisition, had it proceeded, would have resulted in the demolition of the building and the construction of a transit center. We were able to convince the Federal Transit Administration to withdraw its federal funding for the project due to TANK's failure to comply with federal historic preservation laws. When TANK decided that it would proceed with the project using only local funds, we successfully established at trial that TANK could not afford to complete the project and, as a result, the trial court dismissed TANK's lawsuit.
  • We represented the City of Norwood in five major eminent domain matters, defending a consolidated right to take action involving five separate properties, taking three of those to jury trials on valuation, settling two others. While we prevailed on the right to take case at the trial in the Court of Appeals level, the United States Supreme Court Kelo case was decided after the Court of Appeals decision. Subsequently, the Ohio Supreme Court took the case and reversed the lower court's decision on the right to take, making major modifications to Ohio law in the process.
  • We represented a group of property owners in Clifton Heights in an eminent domain matter brought by the City of Cincinnati. We settled two of the three cases for several times the City's initial offer. In the remaining case, the Court of Appeals agreed that the City did not have the right to condemn our client's property and the Court ordered the City to pay our client's legal fees and expenses. City of Cincinnati v. Clif Cor, 2007-Ohio-311.
  • We successfully handled a challenge to an eminent domain action brought by the Clinton County Commissioners who had filed the action in order to expand Clinton Field, a county-owned airport. We were able to establish that Clinton County had failed to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act and, as a result, was ineligible to obtain the federal funds necessary for the acquisition of the property and the construction of the expanded airport. We forced the Commissioners to abandon the take and, as a result, they were responsible for paying the vast majority of our clients' legal fees.
  • We recently completed a series of eminent domain acquisitions for the City of Monroe, Ohio, acquiring property necessary for the expansion of State Route 63, which was part of a combined project with the Ohio Department of Transportation necessary to improve the I-75 Interchange.
  • We represented the City of Lockbourne against an appropriation action brought by the City of Columbus. The Court recently granted our motion for summary judgment, dismissing the lawsuit due to the City's failure to follow Ohio's eminent domain law. While we currently have a motion for legal fees and expenses pending, the City of Columbus has conceded that an award of fees is appropriate.

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Historic Preservation

  • We represented property owners in Richmond, Kentucky who opposed construction of the Richmond Bypass Highway in a location which would have done damage to a national historic site.
  • We represented several community groups in connection with the preservation of the historic Anderson Ferry, one of the few remaining ferries across the Ohio River. This issue was ultimately argued successfully by us before the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Ultimately, the court ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to pay approximately $60,000 in legal fees.
  • We represented the owners of the Netherland Plaza Hotel, listed on the National Register, to prevent the connection of a second-level walkway into the Palm Court Room, which would have seriously damaged the historic integrity of that structure.
  • We have handled several historic preservation issues in the Cincinnati area as well as in Chillicothe, Springfield and other Ohio communities and have spoken on legal issues involving historic preservation at local, state and national conferences.
  • We represented several developers seeking State of Ohio historic tax credits in an action directly in the Ohio Supreme Court that was ultimately not successful.
  • In Newport, Kentucky, we successfully defeated the attempted take of a property by eminent domain, ostensibly for the purpose of a bus transit center. We ultimately used federal historic preservation to cause the transit authority to lose the federal funding it was relying upon to pay for the project. We then prevailed in the lawsuit when we proved that the transit authority was acting in bad-faith, because it had no present or future ability to pay for the project using only local money.
  • We have handled a successful effort to stop the taking of a farm by eminent domain near Wilmington, Ohio for the expansion of a local county airport. We caused the County to dismiss when we showed that the airport failed to get the necessary federal historic and environmental approvals to proceed.
  • We recently caused the re-routing of a proposed gas pipeline from a farm in Warren County, Ohio; again, using historic preservation arguments, resulting in the dismissal of the pending eminent domain action.

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Civil Rights

We have been involved in several pieces of major civil rights litigation.

  • We successfully represented 40 members of the City of Cincinnati's Employment and Training Division in establishing their right to be treated as members of the Civil Service system. The City unsuccessfully appealed that case all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court and we were able to recover most of our clients' attorney's fees.
  • In a civil rights challenge to the constitutionality of a Clermont County township zoning ordinance which limited a homeowner's right to place a political sign in his yard, we were successful in both voiding the ordinance and in recovering all of our clients' attorney's fees.
  • In a federal housing discrimination class action in which we represented Housing Opportunities Made Equal (H.O.M.E.) and many of the racially integrated communities in Cincinnati, we achieved a settlement with one of the largest real estate firms in the area which prevents racial steering. U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Nathaniel Jones, former National General Counsel to the NAACP, described it as a landmark settlement.
  • We have represented Housing Opportunities Made Equal and its clients in housing discrimination cases.
  • We represented Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) and the Cincinnati Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in major litigation against Nationwide Insurance challenging their methods of providing home insurance. A settlement resulted in dramatic changes and remedial action and substantial financial benefits.

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Fraternal and Education Law

The lawyers in this firm have extensive experience in the field of public education and higher education, including representation of fraternal organizations, members and house corporations.

  • We represent collegiate fraternities throughout the United States. We serve as national general counsel to the National Panhellenic Conference and numerous fraternities and sororities and frequently are called upon to represent other fraternities and sororities on an ad hoc basis. We are in our 30th year of publishing Fraternal Law, a newsletter for fraternities and those college administrators who deal with them, which now has a subscription list of thousands of readers. We also sponsor a Fraternal Law Conference that brings to Cincinnati representatives of the university and fraternity world from all across the country. We are now in our fifth year of operating a National Anti-Hazing Hotline which records hazing reports (1-888-NOT-HAZE). It is set up so those calls reporting hazing can be emailed directly to those national organizations whose chapters may be involved for investigation. Currently, 32 national fraternities and sororities sponsor the hotline.
  • We frequently work with and advise local house corporations on numerous policy, procedural and governance issues.  
  • We have represented national fraternal organizations and local chapters in specific litigation against colleges and universities on cases involving Freedom of Association under the First Amendment and various disciplinary issues.  
  • We have represented national fraternal organizations in litigation brought by disciplined members or former members.
  • We represented the 70 or so families in the Fleming Meadows subdivision in their successful effort to transfer from the Greenhills-Forest Park School District to the Wyoming School District. This was a particularly difficult matter because of accusations that the transfer would negatively impact on the racial make-up of Greenhills-Forest Park.
  • We served as Special Counsel to the Attorney General of Ohio for the purpose of representing the University of Cincinnati on its land use matters.
  • We successfully obtained a decision from the Ohio Board of Education ordering a land transfer sought by several dozen families we represent from the Cincinnati School District to the Madeira School District.
  • We represent the Southwest School District in Hamilton County with regard to tax abatements and tax increment financing matters.

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Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

In the personal injury and wrongful death area, our practice has been extensive and unique.

  • We represent a number of individuals who have suffered various injuries, including permanent disability or death, due to their employers' intentional misconduct, such as removing machine guards, failing to provide required protective gear or safety procedures, and maintaining generally unsafe and ultra hazardous working conditions.
  • We represented the estate of a 21-year-old man who was killed in a drunk driving accident leaving his 19-year-old widow and baby son. That lawsuit against both the driver of the car and the bar where he got drunk resulted in a ruling by the Court of Appeals for Hamilton County that established that a bar owner can be liable for damages caused by a drunk driver, even if those damages occur away from the bar.
  • We have represented the victims of child sexual abuse in cases against the clergy, teachers, family members and strangers.
  • We have an extensive Workers Compensation practice that is maintained by George Moeller, who devotes almost full-time to representing injured workers.
  • We have extensive experience representing plaintiffs injured in motor vehicle collisions through Southwest Ohio.

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In Memorium

Robert E. Manley

Eulogy for a Renaissance Man
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