Lang Successfully Assists Client in "Floating Junkyard" Case
A waterfront property owner along an inlet near the Campostella Bridge in Norfolk found the right attorney when he retained Jim Lang of Pender & Coward. Lang is an environmental and admiralty attorney, and he is the go-to attorney in Hampton Roads for issues involving “the water.”
In this case, the client had gotten nowhere over a period of years while a neighboring business accumulated a “floating junkyard” of 20+ large broken-down ships right in front of the client’s waterfront property, some of the ships as much as 200-300 feet in length. Not only were the ships posing a navigational hazard and potentially an environmental one, but they were negatively impacting the value of the client’s property and were interfering with the activities of a tenant at the client’s property.
Lang, an experienced environmental and maritime lawyer, and fellow Pender & Coward attorney Jessica Booth, began an exhaustive process that linked ownership of the ships to the neighbor and his business associates, this being necessary because the neighbor had in past years ducked responsibility for the mess by claiming that most of the vessels were owned by other persons unknown.
Lang and Booth organized a coalition of several federal, state and local government agencies including the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VRMC) and the City of Norfolk. When that step failed to produce prompt action, Lang involved Joel Rubin of Rubin Communications Group in Virginia Beach. Rubin was able to generate interest and, more importantly, coverage from all three local TV stations and, together, he and Lang developed a presentation for VMRC's December 2013 Commission Meeting. The Commissioners listened and asked questions, then directed their staff to begin its own enforcement action if the City of Norfolk did not expeditiously bring closure to the case.
The pressure is on, but the boats are still in the water, some resting on the bottom. The business that created the “floating junkyard” has reportedly promised the City it will remove the ships. The matter is on the front burner of the authorities now, thanks to Jim Lang's and Jessica Booth's persistence and dedication to their client's, and the community's, needs.