attorneys

Joseph P. Suntum

"It is my job to make sure a public project is properly authorized, its design is modified to mitigate impact on my client’s property as much as possible, and insure that my client receives full and fair compensation for both the property being taken by the government and any diminution in value caused to any portion of the property not being taken. I am committed to doing my job in every case and for every client."

Joe-attorney-detailed

Overview

Joseph P. Suntum is an eminent domain trial attorney. He focuses his practice on representing owners of real property who are subject to having property condemned and taken by the government by eminent domain.

Joseph (Joe) P. Suntum is principal in the firm and the firm’s Eminent Domain/Condemnation Group Leader. His decades of trial experience and his in-depth knowledge of real property valuation and the law of eminent domain allow him to protect his clients’ property rights and maximize their compensation when their properties are targeted for condemnation. Joe is the Owners’ Counsel of America member attorney for the State of Maryland and Chair of the Owners Counsel Board of Directors. The Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) is a national network of experienced condemnation attorneys who represent property owners against federal, state and local governments. Membership in the Owners’ Counsel is selective and restricted to one member attorney per state. 

Joe is a rare trial lawyer who has successfully tried both murder cases and multi-million dollar civil actions. He has also successfully argued numerous appeals before the Maryland courts of appeal. Joe joined the firm in 1988, and has been a principal in the firm since 1994. He served as Managing Partner of the firm from 1997 to 2008. Before joining Miller, Miller & Canby, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Elsbeth Levy Bothe in Circuit Court for Baltimore City, and served as an Assistant Public Defender for Montgomery County for four years, where he first earned his reputation as an outstanding trial advocate.

Quality legal representation requires the trial advocate not only to apply exceptional analytical and trial advocacy skills to the case, but also be able to coordinate the many resources of the client, witnesses and expert consultants into a cohesive and ultimately persuasive team. Joe works closely with his clients to identify and fully understand their goals. He uses all available tools in pursuit of a successful result for his clients as efficiently and economically as the case permits, including use of the latest in courtroom technology to most persuasively present his clients’ cases. 

The trial of condemnation actions requires full knowledge of the substantive issues concerning land valuation, as well as the unique procedural rules applicable to such matters. Joe’s knowledge in this area permits him to work effectively with experts such as appraisers, land planners, brokers, developers, and others to maximize the compensation paid to his clients for property taken by governmental agencies. 

In addition to eminent domain cases, Joe accepts select commercial litigation matters requiring advanced strategic and trial skills. 


Testimonials

Joe Suntum is a business person's lawyer. He understands how to use the legal system to get to a result, rather than just spinning around to no good end. He counsels well to assist us in reaching our goals.

Allen P. Lev, General Counsel, Kin Properties, Inc.

Joe and his team at Miller, Miller & Canby have been exceptional in the process, and set a new standard in excellence, in depth of knowledge and responsiveness.

Harvey Maisel, Maisel Development Co.

Joe Suntum has done an outstanding job representing the owner of an apartment complex that is subject to a partial taking by the State in connection with the construction of the Purple Line. As the President of an apartment management company, and in my previous career, as the partner in charge of the real estate group in the DC office of a national law firm, I have had the benefit of working with many excellent eminent domain attorneys. I would put Joe up there with the best of them.

Jim Ritzenberg, President, SR Management Company

Joe and Amy were great people first, then great lawyers. This case was very important to us, and they treated us with compassion and care. I simply can't speak highly enough about this firm.

Lilly Barboutsis

What distinguishes Joe Suntum as an attorney is his dogged tenacity. He simply won't quit. His commitment to preserve and protect the rights of his clients is pure and genuine. Joe is a courageous lawyer.

Lowell Baier, Baier Properties Inc.

The Townhouse Association of which I am president engaged Miller, Miller & Canby and Joe Suntum to help us with the settlement the Purple Line was offering us. Joe did an outstanding job. The final settlement he got for us was much higher than what was originally offered. We were very pleased.

Wanderly Calderon


Bar Admissions

  • Maryland
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (1983)

Professional Affiliations

  • Bar Association of Montgomery County (Secretary, 1995-1996; Executive Committee, 1997-1999; Member, Federal Practice Section)
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association (Member, Litigation Section)
  • Board of Directors of Montgomery General Hospital, 2003 – 2009
  • Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation, 2005 – 2009

Education

  • University of Maryland, J.D., 1982
  • University of Maryland, B.A., 1979
  • University of Montana, 1975-1977

Honors and Awards

  • Named by Super Lawyers magazine as top 5% of Litigation Attorneys in the state of Maryland
  • Member, Character Committee of The Court of Appeals of Maryland (1992-1997)


Publications


Case Studies

  • Partial Take - Complete Damages
    Eminent Domain

    Partial Take – Complete Damages

    Issue: Client owned property improved with Wendy’s fast food restaurant. State filed condemnation action to take a portion of the...read more →

  • Wintergreen Shopping Center Thumbnail
    Business & Commercial Litigation

    Breach of Commercial Lease and Appeal

    Issue: Client owned the Wintergreen Shopping Center on Rockville Pike, which was anchored by Circuit City.  Circuit City’s lease...read more →

  • Zoned for Single-Family Residential Use
    Eminent Domain

    Highest and Best Use – Full Development Potential

    Issue: Clients owned a 7.92 acre parcel of property improved with a single-family home in Silver Spring. The property was zoned for...read more →

  • necessity-to-take
    Eminent Domain

    Necessity to Take

    Issue: Client owned 2-acre shopping center improved with a grocery store situated close to the roadway. The road needed to be widened to...read more →

  • 150-unit Garden Apartment Complex
    Eminent Domain

    Severance Damages

    Issue: Client owned a 6.77-acre property improved with 150-unit garden apartment complex. The apartments enjoyed a park setting as they...read more →

View firm case studies

DISCLAIMER: THE CASES AND RESULTS DESCRIBED HEREIN ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF PAST RESULTS OBTAINED BY MILLER, MILLER & CANBY, AND ITS ATTORNEYS. PAST CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS. ALL CASES ARE DISTINCT AND HAVE UNIQUE FACTS, CIRCUMSTANCES AND LEGAL QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED AND EVALUATED ON THEIR OWN MERIT.


Representative Cases

Shopping Center - Before
Before
Shopping Center - After
After

Shopping Center

Prince George's County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $3,750,000
  • Final Award:
  • $12,500,000

Taking of 1.18 acres of a 7.83 acre shopping center in the NW quadrant of New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard for the construction of a bus transit facility. The loss of parking would substantially damage the value and operation of the shopping center.

T03_Check_thumb
Before
T03_LandLocked_thumb
After

Landlocked Remnant

Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $73,800
  • Final Award:
  • $1,568,000

The State left this landlocked remnant of approximately 1.5 acres in the wake of its adjacent takings for the ICC. MM&C proved the property could be developed in conjunction with adjacent property which had also been taken for the same project and had originally been part of a larger parcel with common ownership.

Before Boundary Survey - Residentially Zoned
Before
After Boundary Survey - Residentially Zoned
After

Industrial & Residentially Zoned – Unimproved Property

Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $3,750,000
  • Final Award:
  • $8,545,000

Montgomery County condemned 82.12 acres of industrial and residentially zoned undeveloped property located in the NW quadrant of I-270 and Rt. 121 for the purpose of the North County Depot Project.

.41 Acres Improved Industrial Property - Before
Before
.41 Acres Improved Industrial Property After
After

.41 Acres Improved Industrial Property

Rockville Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,725,000
  • Final Award:
  • $2,225,000

Complete take by Montgomery County of commercial property improved with a commercial office building for road extension.

W04_Before_thumb
Before
W04_After_thumb
After

.44 Acres Commercial

Frederick County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,080,000
  • Final Award:
  • $1,250,000

Complete take of approximately .5 acres of commercial property improved with a restaurant for the purpose of the expansion of the runway protection zone for the Frederick airport.

0.3857 Acres of Land With Improvements - Before
Before
0.3857 Acres of Land With Improvements After
After

0.3857 Acres of Land With Improvements

Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $360,000
  • Final Award:
  • $445,000

Complete take of residential property improved with a single-family dwelling.

0.877 of Improved Residential Property - Before
Before
Residential Property Silver Spring Montgomery County
After

0.877 of Improved Residential Property

Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $47,300
  • Final Award:
  • $99,000

Partial Taking of a strip of residential property for road widening. Issues concerned the diminution in value of the remainder due to the closer proximity of the road, increased traffic and noise and costs to cure.

1 Acre of Land Improved With a 1.5 Story Dwelling, Storage Shed and Parking Garage-Before
Before
1 Acre of Land Improved With a 1.5 Story Dwelling, Storage Shed and Parking Garage - After
After

1 Acre of Land Improved With a 1.5 Story Dwelling, Storage Shed and Parking Garage

Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $740,000
  • Final Award:
  • $870,450

Complete take of single-family residence in conjunction with construction of the ICC. Significant relocation compensation was required to replicate the nature of the property taken.

1 Acre of Unimproved Residentially Zoned Property - Before
Before
1 Acre of Unimproved Residentially Zoned Property - After
After

1 Acre of Unimproved Residentially Zoned Property

Frederick County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $116,180
  • Final Award:
  • $385,000

Partial taking of a strip of residentially zoned property for Stringtown Road extension.

9.6003 Acres Unimproved Industrial Zoned Property - Before
Before
1.97 Acres of Improved Residential Property - after
After

1.97 Acres of Improved Residential Property

Damascus Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $63,300
  • Final Award:
  • $363,000

Partial taking of a strip of residential property for construction of Rt. 124 bypass. The taking caused substantial diminution in the value of the remaining property as it was walled off from the community.

11,900 sq. ft. of Commercial Property - Before
Before
11,900 sq. ft. of Commercial Property - After
After

11,900 sq. ft. of Commercial Property

Wheaton Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,300,000
  • Final Award:
  • $1,414,500

Complete take of commercially zoned property improved with a 1 story, 3 bay service station with gasoline island and a parking lot.

12.04 Acres of Industrial Zoned Property - Before
Before
3.9 Acres of Commercially Zoned Property - After
After

12.04 Acres of Industrial Zoned Property

Rockville Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,600,000
  • Final Award:
  • $4,390,000

The County took approximately 5 acres of this 12 acre, improved industrial property. The taking significantly impacted the post-taking development potential of the remainder.

J10_Before_thumb
Before
J10_Plan_thumb
After

12.7 Acre Residentially Zoned – Rolling Tract of Unimproved Agriculturally Assessed Land

Germantown Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $2,650,000
  • Final Award:
  • $4,142,500

Complete take of 12.7 acres of residentially zoned property under contract with developer. MM&C proved that compensation should be paid based on land plan preliminarily vetted by MNCPPC before condemnation was filed. Issues involved public development policies concerning MPDU's, forest conservation and TDRs.

2.78 Acres Residential Silver Spring Montgomery County
Before
5.03 Acres of Undeveloped Residentially Zoned Property -after
After

2.78 Acres Residential

Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $296,300
  • Final Award:
  • $1,345,000

Partial Taking (20,471 sq. ft.) of residential property for the purpose of Highway Construction, which caused such substantial severance damages to the remainder that MM&C convinced the condemner to take the entire property.

22.425 Acres of Land - Before
Before
22.425 Acres of Land - After
After

22.425 Acres of Land

Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $2,125,400
  • Final Award:
  • $11,490,057

Complete take of over 22 acres of valuable undeveloped property, which had been subdivided for residential development for the purpose of construction of the ICC.

24.05 Acres Residential - Before
Before
E06_Plan_thumb
After

24.05 Acres Residential

Batchellors Forest Rd. Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $83,629
  • Final Award:
  • $1,393,600

Partial taking (54,856 sq. ft.) of residential property on the south side of Batchellor's Forest Road for the purpose of highway construction. The taking and project caused substantial severance damages to the property not taken and reduced its value as a potential church site.

24.74 Acres Undeveloped Residential Property Contract
Before
24.74 Acres Undeveloped Residential Property - after
After

24.74 Acres Undeveloped Residential Property

Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $2,150,000
  • Final Award:
  • $3,375,000

Complete take of 24.74 acres of residentially zoned property to provide for parkland replenishment. MM&C proved that just compensation should be calculated based upon the contract the owner had negotiated with a developer to sell the property.

3.27 Acres Improved Residential and Farm Property - Before
Before
3.27 Acres Improved Residential and Farm Property - After
After

3.27 Acres Improved Residential and Farm Property

Damascus Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $74,650
  • Final Award:
  • $225,000

Partial Taking of residential property frontage, including access to an historic barn. MM&C proved that the barn had potential for economic use that was destroyed by the taking.

Residentially Zoned Land Improved with a Clubhouse
Before
3.32 Acres of Residentially Zoned Land Improved with a Clubhouse, In-Ground Pool - After
After

3.32 Acres of Residentially Zoned Land Improved with a Clubhouse, In-Ground Pool

Bethesda Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $334,800
  • Final Award:
  • $515,000

Partial taking of residential property improved with a community swim club. The taking necessitated substantial costs to cure the impact of the project upon the property.

3.9 Acres of Commercially Zoned Property - before
Before
3.9 Acres of Commercially Zoned Property - After
After

3.9 Acres of Commercially Zoned Property

Germantown Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,072,000
  • Final Award:
  • $1,741,488

Complete take of approximately 4 acres of commercially zoned property for a fire house.

36.15 Acres Residential - Before
Before
36.15 Acres Residential - After
After

36.15 Acres Residential

Spencerville Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $2,700,000
  • Final Award:
  • $3,825,000

Complete take of improved residential property for the purpose of the Highway Construction.

39,883 Sq. ft. of Improved Single-Family Property - Before
Before
39,883 Sq. ft. of Improved Single-Family Property - After
After

39,883 Sq. ft. of Improved Single-Family Property

Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $488,500
  • Final Award:
  • $710,730

Complete take of single-family residential property for construction of improvements to Rt. 29. Highest and best use of the property before the taking was for residential development with townhomes.

5.03 Acres of Undeveloped Residentially Zoned Property - Before
Before
2.78 Acres Residential - During
After

5.03 Acres of Undeveloped Residentially Zoned Property

Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $704,200
  • Final Award:
  • $1,056,300

Partial taking by the State of approximately 1.8 acres of a 5.03 acre parcel. The taking left the owner with less than 5 acres and destroyed his ability to use the cluster zoning option and diminished the development potential of the remainder.

7 Acres of Residentially Zoned Property - before
Before
7 Acres of Residentially Zoned Property - After
After

7 Acres of Residentially Zoned Property

Silver Spring Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $231,950
  • Final Award:
  • $697,000

Partial taking of 5.65 acres of a 7 acre residentially zoned property. MM&C proved that the highest and best use of the property was for development of a senior living facility pursuant to a special exception, which would avoid traffic limitations on development.

7.92 Acres Residential - before
Before
7.92 Acres Residential - After
After

7.92 Acres Residential

Layhill Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,483,750
  • Final Award:
  • $3,698,000

Partial Taking (6.19 acres) of a 7.92 acre improved residential property. MM&C attorneys proved this single-family zoned property's highest and best use was for townhouse development.

8.5 Acres Improved Residential Property - Before
Before
8.5 Acres Improved Residential Property - After
After

8.5 Acres Improved Residential Property

Layhill Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $3,700,000
  • Final Award:
  • $4,650,000

Complete take of residential and farm property for construction of the Inter-County Connector highway.

E08_Before_thumb
Before
E08_After_thumb
After

86,940 sq. ft. of Improved Residential Property

Anne Arundel County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $920,050
  • Final Award:
  • $1,720,050

The State took a portion of this residential property, including its access for cloverleaf construction. In addition to compensation for the taking, alternative access had to be negotiated and provided.

9.6003 Acres Unimproved Industrial Zoned Property - After
Before
9.6003 Acres Unimproved Industrial Zoned Property - after
After

9.6003 Acres Unimproved Industrial Zoned Property

Prince George's County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $1,578,450
  • Final Award:
  • $2,347,051

Partial Taking of unimproved industrially zoned property for the construction of a maintenance facility for the SHA.

North Bethesda Montgomery County, MD
Before
9.85 Acres Vacant Land Zoned R-20/C-O Residential & Commercial
After

9.85 Acres Vacant Land Zoned R-20/C-O Residential & Commercial

North Bethesda Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $4,819,000
  • Final Award:
  • $9,669,000

Partial Taking (approx. 246, 260 sq. ft.) of undeveloped residential and commercial property for the purpose of constructing the Montrose Parkway.

N. Charles Street Baltimore City, MD 0- Before
Before
N. Charles Street Baltimore City, MD - Appeals
After

Bar

N. Charles Street Baltimore City, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $180,000
  • Final Award:
  • Defeated take in Court of Appeals

Threatened quick-take of a bar in Baltimore for the purpose of undetermined economic improvement. MM&C defeated the take by proving there was no necessity for the quick-take when the future use of the property was to yet be determined.

Apartment Property Baltimore County, MD
Before
Apartment Propert - After
After

Apartment Property

Baltimore County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $0
  • Final Award:
  • Condemnation Abandoned

Baltimore County threatened the taking of open space property to extend Security Boulevard which would bi-sect an apartment community. The County contended the property had no value as it could not be developed by the owner. MM&C defeated the take by proving the basis of the County's appraisal was fatally flawed and that there would be substantial severance damages if the taking was to proceed.

E05_Before_thumb
Before
Commercial Zoned Property - After
After

Commercial Zoned Property

Upper Marlboro Prince George's County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $775,000
  • Final Award:
  • $1,250,000

Complete taking of a gas station property for the purpose of road construction - MD Rt. 4

Old School Building - before
Before
Old School Building - after
After

Old School Building

Takoma Park Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $500,000
  • Final Award:
  • $2,000,000

MNCPPC condemned the old school building to create a neighborhood park. The building was owned and being used by a church group. MM&C proved that the owner was entitled to just compensation as a church property.

Residentially Zoned Property Improved With a Church - Before
Before
Residentially Zoned Property Improved With a Church - After
After

Residentially Zoned Property Improved With a Church

Gaithersburg Montgomery County, MD

  • Initial Offer:
  • $147,850
  • Final Award:
  • $737,727

The State took a portion of this property improved with a church, which significantly damaged the church's ability to provide parking and expand its services to its congregation and the community.

DISCLAIMER: THE CASES AND RESULTS DESCRIBED HEREIN ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF PAST RESULTS OBTAINED BY MILLER, MILLER & CANBY, AND ITS ATTORNEYS. PAST CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE FUTURE RESULTS. ALL CASES ARE DISTINCT AND HAVE UNIQUE FACTS, CIRCUMSTANCES AND LEGAL QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED AND EVALUATED ON THEIR OWN MERIT.