Cecilia Fex has over sixteen years of experience in protecting property rights for her clients. Cecilia is considered to be a leading expert on the national Trails Act, the Tucker Act (“inverse condemnation”), and in the complex body of law concerning federal railway and land grants. On behalf of clients nationwide, she seeks compensation payments from the federal government for taking private property, and she prevents private property from being taken when no legal basis for confiscation exists.
Cecilia is lead attorney in the firm’s takings cases against the United States. And in addition to vindicating clients’ rights in court, Cecilia negotiates outside of court for alternative solutions to clients’ problems and consults with local counsel when their clients have issues that require her expertise.
Cecilia has presented on a panel at a Court of Federal Claims Annual Conference and participated on panels and co-chaired on the Takings Committee in the United States Court of Federal Claims Bar Association. The Court of Federal Claims exercises original jurisdiction in any takings case or “Tucker Act” case brought against the United States.
As a property rights lawyer, Cecilia achieves victories for her clients in landmark cases, helping to shape the law for generations to come. Private property takings cases in which Cecilia has had lead roles include the landmark case Hash v. United States, in which the Federal Circuit handed a victory to landowners who own reversionary rights in federal right-of-way grants, and where the Hash Court decision negated several, unfavorable appellate court decisions; another landmark case, Samuel C. Johnson 1988 Trust v. Bayfield County, in which the 7th Circuit effectively reversed itself from an earlier decision, also negated several, unfavorable appellate court decisions, and ruled that the landowners, and not the federal government or a county trail manager, owned full title in the land after a railroad abandoned certain federal railway land and right-of-way grants; Beres v. United States and Phillips v. United States, in which the Court of Federal Claims ruled the United States was liable for taking private property when converting an 1875 Act right of way into recreational trail use; the seminal case, Preseault v. United States (cutting-edge private property takings case in which Cecilia was Of Counsel with Nels Ackerson and represented the landowners during pre-trial, trial on damages for a hiker/biker trail conversion, and trial on fees); and Cecilia filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Association of Reversionary Property owners in Brandt v. United States, in which the Supreme Court ruled that landowners owned full title in abandoned 1875 Act easements. Cecilia’s additional cases include Bywaters v. United States (class action property takings case in which the U.S. Government lost the issue of certification and stipulated to liability); Lowers v. United States (class action property takings case in which United States lost the issue of class certification stipulated to liability, and which has since settled); Marriott v. United States (individual property takings case in which the court agreed with our client that the United States did not obtain any title in railroad right of way under Trails Act; damages settled); Schmitt v. United States (class action property takings case in which the United States lost the issues of certification and liability for a rails-to-trails conversion, and which has since been settled); and Schneider v. United States (state-wide class action property takings case in which the United States lost the issues of certification and liability; litigation is ongoing).
Washington, D.C.-based, Cecilia has also handled various agency and legislative matters on behalf of local and national clients before federal and regional governmental agencies. She has served as counsel in federal and state jury and bench trials, administrative bench trials, and in mediation and alternative dispute resolution.
Areas of Practice
- Complex Litigation
- Taking Cases
- Property Rights
- Class Actions
- Maryland, 1991
- District of Columbia, 1992
- U.S. District Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals 11th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals Federal Circuit
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Harvard University Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- J.D. – 1991
- University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland
- B.A. summa cum laude – 1988
- Montgomery College, School of Nursing
- A.D. – 1982
- Rails-to-Trails: The Perspective Across the Tracks, (Co-Author), 70 J. Transp. L., Logistics & Pol y 142, 2003
The Elements of Liability in a Trails Act Takings Case: A Guide to the Analysis
, Ecology Law Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2011
See list of Representative Cases.
- Court of Federal Claims Bar Association, Brown Bag Luncheon, Co-Host and Speaker, Accrual of a Takings Claim – Should the Court Apply a Single Unifying Approach When Deciding a Statute of Limitations Issue?
- Rail Reversionary Interests: Do They Amount to Anything?, The Transportation Law Institute, Denver, Colorado, University of Denver College of Law
- Valuation of Rights of Way, International Right of Way Association, Mobile, Alabama
- The Battle for Rights on Railroad Corridors: Are Your Property Rights in Jeopardy and Is There a Solution?, International Right of Way Association, Orlando, Florida
- The 13th Annual Conference On Litigating Takings And Other Legal Challenges To Land Use And Environmental Regulation: The Elements of Liability in A Trails Act Taking, Berkeley School of Law
- Fifth Amendment Takings Litigation Involving the Rails-to-Trails Program, Court of Federal Claims Annual Conference
- 2014 Railroad Right of Way Seminar: Legal Issues Involving Reversionary Rights, International Right of Way Association: Orange County
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Federal Circuit Bar Association
- Court of Federal Claims Bar Association
- District of Columbia Bar Association
- Harvard Law School Association
- National Institute for Trial Advocacy