Owners' Counsel of America Regrets to Announce the Passing of Founder, Toby Prince Brigham

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Owners' Counsel of America's inspirational leader and founder, Toby Prince Brigham. Toby passed away peacefully on Friday, March 19 at his home in Florida, a state he loved deeply, and where he practiced law for some 54 years before retiring in 2014.

A graduate of Yale University ('56) and the University of Florida College of Law ('59), Toby was a legal giant who pioneered the practice of eminent domain representation on behalf of private property owners. It was Toby's core belief that the right to own property is a cherished civil right that allows each citizen to own a piece of the sovereign and thereby contribute to the balance of power between state and citizen. There was no greater calling as a lawyer in Toby's mind than defending and protecting private property owners against powerful governmental bodies who too often wield the awesome condemnation authority with seemingly limitless financial resources while being aided by skillful government attorneys.

Toby's love of the law came from his father, E.F.P. Brigham, who filed the landmark 1950 lawsuit that established Floridians' constitutional right to have the cost of their defense included in the full compensation measure. The senior Brigham argued that property owners shouldn't have to pay for the appraisers and other experts needed to dispute a county's purchase offer. The Florida Supreme Court agreed, ruling that "It cannot be said [a private property owner] has received 'just compensation' for his property if he is compelled to pay out of his own pocket the expenses of establishing the fair value of the property." The legal holding in Dade County v. Brigham stands to this day.

After working alongside his father for many years and then starting his own firm, in 1978 Toby teamed with S. William Moore to form Brigham Moore. At its zenith, Brigham Moore had a large staff of practicing attorneys operating out of offices in Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Sarasota, and Jacksonville—all devoted to the representation of private property owners in taking cases across Florida.

For over two decades, as the planning co-chair of the American Bar Association-American Law Institute annual Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation conference (now sponsored by ALI-CLE), Toby sought to educate and inspire other lawyers in the complexities of eminent domain law and the importance of private property ownership. It was this experience and the opportunity it gave him to form relationships with many of the leading eminent domain lawyers across the country that inspired him over 20 years ago to create Owners' Counsel of America, a national business association of legal experts in eminent domain, inverse, and regulatory taking cases devoted to defending and protecting private property owners. 

Among Toby's many honors, in 2004 William and Mary Law School (with the assistance of Joseph T. Waldo) established the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference in recognition of the lifetime contributions made by both Toby and his longtime friend and ALI-ABA co-chair Gideon Kanner, Professor Emeritus, Loyola School of Law. Each year the Conference awards the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize to a scholar whose work has contributed to the promotion of property rights.

Toby was deeply loved by his family and friends and OCA cannot put into words the loss that will be felt by his passing. For over 54 years Toby was married to the love of his life, Kathleen "Kay" Brigham, who passed away in 2014. Toby leaves behind four children, Edward, Amy, Andrew, and Timothy and many grandchildren. Both Andrew and Amy continue the family's legacy of legal service. After practicing for many years with their father, Andrew Brigham started his own eminent domain firm known as Brigham Property Rights Law Firm and Amy Brigham Boulris became a shareholder with the law firm of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart.

"Toby was like the roots of a tree in the way he connected so many people together. Many of our members have remarked that they owe some of their closest professional relationships to the introductions that Toby brought about. He loved people and they responded in kind. We will miss him terribly." - Leslie Fields, Executive Director of OCA.

Source: Owners' Counsel of America