FL - Federal Judge Signs Order Releasing Flagler County Dunes Easement It Sought for 3 Years

“I am thrilled, Al, that our joint efforts made this result possible and that a major hurdle to beach protection has now been eliminated,” Scott Spradley wrote County Attorney Al Hadeed in an email this afternoon, announcing the resolution of a three-year case. Spradley, elected to the Flagler Beach City Commission in March, had been hired the previous December to craft the strategy that led to the resolution.

A federal judge late this afternoon signed the order approving a settlement agreement between the county and Cynthia d’Angiolini, who for three years had held out from signing an easement that would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild 2.6 miles of dunes south of the Flagler Beach pier.

“This is a monumental accomplishment for which the residents of Flagler Beach, Flagler County and beach visitors will all benefit,” Flagler Beach attorney Scott Spradley, who crafted the legal strategy and filed the case against d’Angiolini that led to the settlement, said in an email to city and county officials this afternoon as he announced the resolution.

Spradley was elected to the Flagler Beach City Commission in March. The previous December, County Attorney Al Hadeed had retained him to handle the case against d’Angiolini, as Spradley specializes in bankruptcy law.

“I am extremely pleased to inform you, the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners and the Flagler Beach City Commission that minutes ago, Federal Bankruptcy Judge Lori V. Vaughan signed the Order Approving the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners’ Motion for Approval of the Settlement Agreement reached with Ms. Cynthia D’Angiolini concerning the 2 remnant dune parcels located on the south side of Flagler Beach,” Spradley wrote.

D’Angiolini owns two such “remnants,” small parcels on the shore that are part of a 3-mile stretch of beach that has critically eroded over the years, and where the Corps will rebuild both dunes and beach starting in a year. D’Angiolini was among some 140 property owners who had to sign easements allowing the Corps to do its work. She resisted for three years, fearing various issues that the county worked to resolve, though she only agreed to a settlement once her own bankruptcy proceedings revealed that she had deceived the court: she had not disclosed ownership of those two parcels.

Once the county became aware of that, Hadeed contacted Spradley, who developed the strategy that led to d’Angiolini’s willingness to settle. She really had no choice: Spradley had filed suit against her, on behalf of the county, and was willing to push the case to trial, where d’Angiolini could not have easily defended against the demonstrated fact of her deception: she’d even lost her own attorney over it. Had the case gone to trial, she would have been at risk of losing the parcels, which would have led to the same result: the county would have gotten its easement without d’Angiolini, and she would have lost her land.

There’s been a few milestones in the case since December. In court on January 31, Spradley and Hadeed won verbal agreement from d’Angiolini and her new attorney that she would sign. But it was not until April 5 that, with her son, she went to Spradley’s law office in Flagler Beach and signed the papers. Still, the bankruptcy judge had to approve the settlement.

The documents had not yet gone before the County Commission for ratification. They couldn’t have, without the judge’s approval of the settlement order, which states: “The Easement Documents described in the Motion and executed by the Debtor, shall be released from escrow and delivered to the Flagler County BOCC. The Easement Documents may be recorded into the public record and used by the Flagler County BOCC in all manners consistent with the stated purpose outlined in the Motion.”

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