Industries

Client Focus

Eminent Domain

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland
  • Virginia, Associate Member (inactive)

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Court of Appeals of Maryland
  • Supreme Court of Virginia
  • U.S. Tax Court
  • U.S. Court of Military Appeals

Education

  • J.D., magna cum laude, Washington and Lee University School of Law, 1982
    Order of the Coif

    Member, Washington & Lee Law Review
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Washington and Lee University, 1980
    Phi Beta Kappa
T +1 410.494.6353
F +1 410.821.0147
 

Kurt J. Fischer

Partner

A partner in Venable’s Litigation Group, Kurt Fischer is an experienced trial lawyer who focuses on eminent domain, real estate, tax, land use regulation, and state and local procurement matters. He represents corporate and individual clients in state and federal court and before administrative and regulatory agencies, including the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals, Maryland Health Care Commission, Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission and Public Service Commission. Kurt is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has been consistently named a Best Lawyer in America for Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law and a Maryland Super Lawyer. In 2012 and 2013, Kurt was selected as one of the Top 100 Maryland Lawyers in the Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers publication.

Kurt represents property owners, public utilities and local governments in condemnation matters for public projects including highway and road realignments, landfills, high voltage transmission lines and sewer and water facilities, railroads and telecommunications lines. He also represents businesses and local governments in disputes involving easements and real covenants, sales and option contracts, leases and the dissolution and winding up of various business organizations.

On tax issues, Kurt frequently represents individual and corporate taxpayers and municipal governments in both the United States and Maryland Tax Courts. Many of the issues involved include the representation of interstate corporations in income tax apportionment disputes; corporations challenging sales and use tax assessments, individual and corporate property owners in appeals of real property tax assessments; and Maryland counties in claims brought by taxpayers for refunds of excise taxes, sewer and water connection charges and impact fees.

Kurt also represents local governments across Maryland in matters alleging due process and equal protection claims from land use decisions. He advises individuals, corporations and Maryland local governments on land use regulation and public law matters, including subdivision and building permit moratoria, adequate public facilities ordinances, sewer allocation policies and other land use regulation controls. 

Prior to working in private practice, Kurt served as a member of the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps, where he was both a government appellate and trial counsel. In 1994, then Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer appointed Kurt to the State Advisory Council on Administrative Hearings where he served on the council until 2001. In 2004, then Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. appointed Kurt chairman of the Real Estate Task Force on Business Owner Compensation in Condemnation Proceedings.

Significant Matters

  • Represented numerous Maryland property owners in major condemnations brought by the State Highway Administration including, among others, condemnations for the US Route 1 bypass in Harford County, the US 301 bypass south of Waldorf, the realignment of US Route 29, the realignment through River Hill, the last village of Columbia, and the Inter-County Connector.
  • Representation of the owner of a cemetery that was under development in a condemnation action brought to acquire the property for a major highway. The condemning authority's initial offer for a portion of the property was US$150,000, and the Circuit Court ultimately entered a judgment on a jury verdict for over US$12 million for the acquisition of the entire property.
  • Represented a national clothing store, as tenant, in an action brought by its landlord to set aside real estate covenants restricting the nature and scope of permissible development on an adjoining parcel of land. The landlord proposed a complex of over 300 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail which would have destroyed the prominence and visibility of the retail store. After a six-day trial, the Circuit Court upheld the validity of the covenants. The Circuit Court’s decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in 600 North Frederick Road, LLC v. Burlington Coat Factory of Maryland, LLC, Court of Appeals, No. 89, September Term 2010.
  • Represented two Maryland hospitals in a Certificate of Need proceeding before the Maryland Health Care Commission in which the hospitals objected to a project in which a competitor sought to move its facilities from an urbanized site to a suburban location. The parties filed prefiled testimony and an extended hearing was held on numerous issues relating to the relocation. After the hearing officer issued a proposed decision finding that the project was not financially feasible, the competing hospital withdrew the application.
  • Represented a Maryland agency in the acquisition of the B&O Warehouse property for the new baseball stadium in Camden Yards near the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore. Before the firm was retained, the state had already deposited US$11 million into court; however, the property owners were claiming values close to twice that amount. Following a five-day mini-trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, the case was settled for exactly US$11 million.
  • Represented a Maryland county in the acquisition of a farm for the expansion of the county's landfill. The case generated substantial publicity, including articles in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and newspapers in Frederick County, as property owners attempted to generate "Save the Farm" opposition to the taking. The case went to trial in circuit court and was settled after the fourth day, when the county successfully challenged the admissibility of the property owner’s appraisal, leaving the property owners without any expert opinion regarding value.
  • Represented a Maryland utility in the acquisitions of a number of properties in Howard County to construct the new Brighton-High Ridge high-voltage transmission line. The utility had been attempting to construct this line for more than 12 years while encountering substantial opposition due to concerns over potential adverse safety and health effects. All the cases were ultimately resolved by settlement, although one case settled after trial.
  • Represented Maryland counties in the acquisition of properties for major road projects.
  • Represented a Maryland sewer and water utility in the acquisition of 46 acres from a 284-acre property for the construction of rapid infiltration sewage ponds. The commission's appraisal of the diminution in value resulting from the partial acquisition of the property was US$175,000, while the property owner's demand was for $723,000. The case was settled before trial for US$225,000.
  • Represented Maryland counties in inverse condemnation actions brought by developers. In one case, to avoid denial of a pending subdivision application, the developer entered into an agreement with the county not to develop four 10-acre lots on the Miles River inhabited by nesting bald eagles and the Delmarva Fox squirrel, both endangered species. When the county subsequently refused to remove the prohibition, the developer challenged the constitutionality of the agreement, claiming that it constituted a taking of private property without just compensation. The case was originally filed in federal court, where it was dismissed. After the developer refiled in circuit court, the county won summary judgment, affirmed on appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
  • After a Maryland county adopted an interim moratorium on subdivision of land pending completion of a new comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance and subdivision regulations, Kurt successfully defended the interim moratorium in three lawsuits claiming that it constituted an unlawful taking, two of which were filed in circuit court and the other in the US District Court for the District of Maryland. In the state court cases, the county won summary judgment. In federal court, where the plaintiff also raised other constitutional challenges, including violation of the equal protection clauses of the federal and state constitutions, the county succeeded in having the case dismissed.
  • After the planning department of our client, a Maryland county, refused to approve a site plan the plaintiff had submitted for a shopping center because the shopping center's storm water management facility extended into the corridor designated for expansion of a road, the plaintiff filed suit in federal court, claiming that the county's requirement that the storm water facility be moved constituted a taking without just compensation. The case was dismissed.
  • Represented numerous Maryland corporations in disputes over the application of the state's sales and use tax and income tax, including apportionment disputes, exemption disputes and reallocations of subsidiary costs.
  • Represented numerous property owners in real property tax appeals. In one recent appeal, Kurt obtained a reduction of the full cash value of an office building from US$35 million to US$18 million.