Marzulla Law, LLC is the nation's leading law firm for takings claims against the federal government. ML represents landowners, developers, water districts, Indian tribes, business, and corporate interests in litigation of property rights and contract claims. ML also represents clients in environmental enforcement actions, and litigation involving natural resources and permitting issues, in federal district courts and courts of appeal.


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Best regards,     

Nancie and Roger Marzulla       

Marzulla Law, LLC   

Tel.: 202.822.6760    

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Landowners Seek Just Compensation After Government Asserts Ownership of Land Without Any Evidence of Title 


In 2006, four landowners of a property on Culebra Island in Puerto Rico entered into an agreement to sell the property. Before that sale could be consummated, the United States Government made a claim of title to the same property, which caused the buyers to back out of the sale. Although the landowners attempted to resolve the dispute, the Government continued to assert a claim of title, ultimately depriving the landowners of the ability to sell their land to anyone. The landowners have filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Katzin v. United States, seeking just compensation under the Fifth Amendment for the Government's taking of their property.


On March 26, 2006, the landowners entered into a contract to sell their property for $4 million. At the time, the landowners disclosed to the buyers that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service had certain ownership rights to the maritime zone of the subject property and that it had previously acquired a permanent conservation easement on an adjoining property. As part of the due diligence review, the buyers contacted the Director of the FWS Division of Realty of the Southeast Region and requested clarification of the rights, title, and interest of FWS in the property. The Director replied stating that FWS owned not only the adjacent seaside property but also portions of the subject property.

Having been told that FWS owned the property, the buyers backed out of the contract, charging the landowners with making material misstatements of facts in the disclosures made in contemplation of the execution of the Deed of Purchase and Sale.

And although the landowners made numerous requests, FWS never provided any legal basis for its ownership claims of that portion of the subject property. As a result, the landowners filed suit against the Government for destruction of their valuable property rights in land and contract.

The Chain of Title

Records of the ownership of the subject property date back to 1881, during the period when Puerto Rico was still a colony of the Spanish Crown, and prior to the Spanish-American War of 1898 which resulted in Puerto Rico being ceded to the United States. In 1903, the original owner of land incorporating the subject property, Escolástico Mulero, sold 2.25 acres to the United States Navy (the acreage would later become known as "Gun Mount"). These 2.25 acres were located adjacent to, but not comprising, the subject property. Over the course of the next century, the land comprising the subject property saw numerous transfers of ownership. In 1995, the landowners at the time, pursuant to a certain Trust Agreement, executed an Agreement of Exchange of Fee Interest for Conservation Easement, with only the maritime zone adjacent to the subject property as the area of interest. In 2004, ownership of the subject property was transferred to the current landowners, who in 2006, attempted to sell the land.

In spite of the chain of title and other documentation demonstrating that no title transfer of any part of the subject property was ever made to the U.S. Navy, the Government still contends otherwise, with FWS claiming ownership rights without any supporting documentation. Furthermore, the Government amended its map of Culebra showing not only the properties owned by FWS, but also showing that it allegedly owns the entire peninsula wherein the subject property is located.

Throughout the course of this entire matter, the Government has refused to provide legal documentation proving its acquisition of title to the Subject Property.

What People Are Saying About Marzulla Law:

"It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Nancie, Roger and the Marzulla Team during the last year.  Their true and tried expertise in the takings field and in depth knowledge of the United States Court of Federal Claims has proven to be an invaluable asset in asserting and defending the clients' interests against a formidable opponent."


Roberto E. Berríos

Attorney Spotlight:
Roberto Berríos   
Roberto E. Berríos is the founding member of Berríos Falcón, LLC, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he focuses on litigating civil, commercial, banking, contracts, labor, and real estate disputes, and tax related issues. He is also an Of Counsel member of the offices of Infante Zumpano, LLC, a Florida based law firm, for Puerto Rico related matters.  

After receiving his LL.M. in Taxation from Georgetown University Law Center, his JD from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, and his B.A. in Political Science from Loyola University, New Orleans, Berríos developed expertise in corporate finance, taxation, banking, labor and real estate issues.

While practicing law in Puerto Rico, Berríos was the Director of Legal & Legislative Affairs for the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association ("PRMA"), serving as in-house counsel in tax, corporate, and labor legal matters. Berríos later joined PriceWaterhouseCoopers in New York where, as a member of the Latin American Desk of the International Tax Services practice, he represented various Fortune 500 Companies in international tax matters. After his tenure in New York, Roberto returned to private practice in Puerto Rico where he continues to represent families and various companies in tax, labor, and real estate matters. His experience has proven valuable in his role as outside counsel to public and private financial institutions, local, national and international businesses, shareholders, real estate developers, and individuals. 

Berríos is working with Marzulla Law to seek just compensation against the United States government in a takings case in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.  

Government Settles Breach of Contract Case for $2.5 Million

In our   February 2013 Newsletter we discussed the Federal Circuit's per curiam affirming a U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision to award landowners over $1.7 million in damages for the Government's failure to build a road. On April 24, 2013, the Government agreed to settle the case, stipulating to the entry of final judgment and to payment of attorney's fees and costs in the amount of $756,900. This stipulation brought the final damages award to nearly $2.5 million for our clients.

Spotlight: Where Are They Now? 
Here's what some of our former interns are currently up to:


Melissa will graduate from St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, Canada in just a few weeks with a B.A. in Human Rights and Criminology. She'll be moving to England this fall to start law school at the University of Sussex.

We're so pleased to hear that she decided to pursue a law degree. We should also mention how proud she should be of the work she did while with us. During her internship, she worked primarily on preparing for the trial in the case of International Industrial Park v. United States, a breach of contract lawsuit concerning the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to honor its agreement with landowners in San Diego, California. We ultimately prevailed in that suit, and we will always remember Melissa's contribution to its successful resolution for our clients. Melissa was also our staff spotlight in the very first newsletter we sent out in March 2011.

Leland is studying at Vanderbilt Law School and intends to focus on environmental law. He told us: "[I just started] regulatory takings in my property class, and I could not help but think about all you taught me in such a short period of time. I also recently spoke with some attorneys hosting a panel presentation at the law school about water rights mediation, and they all spoke very highly of your firm. I truly do appreciate the time I spent at your firm."

Leland was an intern at Marzulla Law in the summer of 2011. A third-year student at the time from Furman University in South Carolina, Leland's major was Economics with a concentration in Environmental Studies.

Tess will graduate from Texas Christian University next month and plans to move to New York City to join the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP as a litigation legal assistant. She told us: "While I originally planned to head straight to law school after earning my Bachelor's degree, I decided to heed the advice I received while at Marzulla and build my resume by first pursuing a few years of professional experience. But no doubt, law school is still in my future. [Washington, D.C.] gave me a great feel for life up in the Northeast. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to return to that region permanently."

Tess Sadler was one of two interns during the 2012 fall season. At the time, Tess was starting her fourth year at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, majoring in Pre-Law Philosophy with a minor in Political Science. Tess started her internship with us just as we were preparing for back-to-back trials. She played key roles in two trials helping to organize trial exhibits, preparing witnesses for examination, and actually participated in the courtroom by helping witnesses with exhibits while on the stand.

About Marzulla Law 


Marzulla Law, LLC is a Washington D.C.-based law firm. Nancie G. Marzulla and Roger J. Marzulla help property owners get paid just compensation when the Government takes their property through inverse condemnation.


ML lawyers practice in the federal courts, especially the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Court for District of Columbia, as well as other federal district courts, appellate courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. ML also represents clients in administrative agencies, such as the Interior Board of Indian Appeals.   


Chambers has recognized Marzulla Law as one of the top ten water rights litigation firms in the country. Nancie Marzulla and Roger Marzulla have been selected by their peers to be included on the list of Best Lawyers in America, and their firm has the highest AV-rating from Martindale-Hubble.  Nancie and Roger Marzulla have been recognized by Best Lawyers as a Top Tier law firm by U.S. News & World Report for environmental law, and Marzulla Law is a proud member of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms.