Back in 2005, the city of Missoula expanded South Avenue and, according to a recent decision by Missoula County District Court Judge McLean, also trampled on the constitutional rights of some downtown Missoula landowners. Attorney Thomas Orr, who argued on behalf of those Missoula landowners, explains why they went to court.

"When the city of Missoula decided to widen and make certain improvements on South Avenue, they never paid for the land," Orr said. "My client, as a result, sued the city of Missoula. We alleged that they had unconstitutionally taken their land. Eminent domain is the nice way to do it, and the way that they did it, was they just came through with a bulldozer."

Orr described the city's taking of the land as "literal highway robbery." The judgement leaves the city paying both damages and attorney's fees, which total around $337,600.

"We're pleased with the outcome, but as taxpayers, my client and I are both appalled at the cost and the time that it took for the citizens in Missoula who were affected by this to receive justice," Orr said. "In fact, they haven't received justice yet because they haven't been paid. They're still facing a potential appeal by the city of administration."

After nine years in court, Orr says the city is considering appealing yet again, in order to avoid paying the attorney's fees.

Thomas Orr: