Sara Beachy is a partner and member of the Litigation and Construction & Transportation Focus Groups. Ms. Beachy concentrates her practice in the areas of eminent domain/condemnation, municipal law, and commercial litigation. She presents regularly to appraisers, engineers, real estate professionals, other lawyers, and acquiring authorities on eminent domain, appraisal, and acquisition issues. She is also one of the authors of the recently published State Bar of Wisconsin book, Condemnation Law and Practice in Wisconsin (2d ed. 2018).
Before joining Axley Brynelson, Ms. Beachy served as an Assistant Attorney General at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, where she represented State agencies in eminent domain, transportation, and land use litigation. Her case load included valuation litigation, inverse condemnation actions, billboards, relocation claims, NEPA/APA environmental reviews, writs of assistance, and administrative law.
Ms. Beachy is also experienced in constitutional, environmental, and open records law.
Ms. Beachy graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School. As a law student, she co-taught a course on the First Amendment, earned multiple academic achievement awards, and coached mock trial. She has been named an Up and Coming Lawyer by the Wisconsin Law Journal and a Rising Star in eminent domain in Super Lawyers Magazine.
In her free time, Ms. Beachy enjoys spending time with her family, cheering on the Packers, and backcountry camping. She also teaches Sunday school and serves as the President of the First Congregational United Church of Christ Foundation.
Ms. Beachy is admitted to practice in the state courts of Wisconsin, the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Significant Representations Resulting in Appellate Decisions:
- Otterstatter v. City of Watertown, 2017 WI App 79, 378 Wis. 2d 697, 904 N.W.2d 396 (the city properly followed airport condemnation procedures in extending its jurisdictional offer, and the circuit court properly granted a writ of assistance to remove the owner from the property)
- Murr v. State, 359 Wis. 2d 675, 859 N.W.2d 628 (Ct. App. 2013) (unpublished) (dismissal of regulatory taking claim based on restrictions of owner’s ability to separately develop two residential lots on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway)
- Krist Oil Co. v. State, 356 Wis. 2d 329, 855 N.W.2d 493 (Ct. App. 2013) (unpublished) (summary judgment for State in claim for business relocation benefits)
- Aesthetic & Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Center, LLC v. State, 2014 WI App 88, 356 Wis. 2d 197, 853 N.W.2d 607 (clarifying intersection of declaratory judgment law and relocation claim procedure)
- J&E Investments v. State, 2013 WI App 90, 349 Wis. 2d 497, 835 N.W.2d 271 (revocation of driveway access permit by Department of Transportation)
- Erdman v. State, 348 Wis. 2d 762, 833 N.W.2d 872 (2013) (unpublished) (finding no compensable taking for a highway improvement project that reduced owner’s access and diminished the value of the property)
- Maxwell v. Hartford Union Sch. Dist., 2012 WI 58, 341 Wis. 2d 238, 814 N.W.2d 484 (clarifying obligations of insurer when insurer provides defense for insured without written reservation of rights letter)
- Doe v. Elmbrook Sch. Dist., 658 F.3d 710 (7th Cir. 2011) (panel decision holding that school district did not violate First Amendment by holding public high school graduation in a church), reversed 687 F.3d 840 (7th Cir. 2012) (en banc rehearing)
- Klemm v. American Transmission Co., 2011 WI 37, 333 Wis. 2d 580, 798 N.W.2d 223 (clarifying owner’s ability to recover litigation expenses when an owner enters into a negotiated agreement with a condemning authority)
- Klaus v. Eau Claire Area Sch. Dist., 2010 WL 2757336 (W.D. Wis.) and 2010 WL 2517564 (W.D. Wis.) (granting summary judgment for school district in due process liberty and property claims, along with related state claims for breach of contract, promissory estoppel and defamation)
- Fields v. American Transmission Co., 2010 WI App 59, 324 Wis. 2d 417, 782 N.W.2d 729 (granting new trial on appeal after circuit court erroneously excluded evidence in jury trial in eminent domain matter)
Admitted to practice in the State Courts of Wisconsin, Federal Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and United States Tax Court.
EducationJ.D., cum laude, University of Wisconsin Law School
B.A., with Distinction, Political Science, Phi Beta Kappa, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Involvement & Recognition
- President, First Congregational United Church of Christ Foundation Board
- Member, State Bar of Wisconsin
- Member, International Right of Way Association, Badger Chapter
- Member, Madison Area Builders Association – Women in Construction
- Member, Women’s Transportation Seminar – Wisconsin Chapter
- Named an Up and Coming Lawyer by the Wisconsin Law Journal
- Named a Rising Star in eminent domain in Super Lawyers Magazine
- Named a Woman in the Law by the Wisconsin Law Journal
As a former Assistant Attorney General with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, favorably negotiated a complex settlement involving six entities, three lawsuits and multi-million dollar claims.
Successfully defended a right-to-take challenge to an airport improvement project, navigated complex relocation issues, and obtained a writ of assistance from court after landowner refused to vacate the property.
Successfully challenged a large special assessment and increased just compensation for landowner whose land was condemned for municipal road project.
Increased a landowner’s just compensation payment by $200,000 over the condemnor’s original offer for a highway taking.
Represent businesses and individuals involved in litigation over the condemnation value of land against WisDOT along highways.
Assisted airports throughout the state in getting pre-condemnation access to properties for purposes of surveying, soil testing and environmental investigation. Wisconsin does not have a statute as most states do regulating circumstances by which a condemner may access property during the pre-condemnation phase.
Successfully defended airports and electric transmission utilities throughout the state against claims alleging that an uneconomic remnant remains after the taking.
We represent several utilities in connection with regional high voltage transmission line projects. We assist in all aspects of land acquisition, including negotiating easements on special use properties, serving jurisdictional offers, filing condemnation petitions and related documents, defending right-to-take actions, and trying cases to county condemnation commissions, judges and juries.
Represent airports throughout the state to assist them in acquiring land rights to complete airport improvement projects. The land rights acquired include land in fee, aviation easements and temporary and permanent access easements.
Represented state of Wisconsin and several governmental subdivisions in multimillion-dollar claims in condemnation valuation litigation.