Federal judge says city violated Virginia Beach dentist’s constitutional rights

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) —  In February, a Virginia Beach dentist won his federal lawsuit against the city, after they forced him to relocate and didn’t properly reimburse him for the relocation costs to do so.

Dr. Allan Bergano was asking for $475,000, but on Wednesday, his attorney gave the court a proposal for $364,000 plus legal fees — both of which have not been determined by Federal District Court Judge Henry Morgan.

What is clear, Judge Morgan had only harsh comments for  the City of Virginia Beach’s conduct in the Bergano case.

“There is nothing fair and just what the city has offered Dr. Bergano,” Judge Morgan said. “The city has no shame… The city has never given accurate information on how it computes relocation costs.”

The judge repeatedly said how he is “mystified” on how poorly the city continues to treat Bergano.

Va. Beach dentist wins federal case against the city

Outside court, Bergano said, “I am just as mystified, and the judge is mystified. This whole case is mystifying to me.”

Judge Morgan slammed Virginia Beach for failing to give Bergano notice on how to compute his relocation costs.

“It is very clear from the very beginning through this whole process there are no rules like what the judge was saying,” Bergano said. “There are no standards, and I believe my case will be the landmark case to get things straight.”

Judge Morgan said, “Dr. Bergano’s constitutional rights have been violated… They did not give Bergano a fair hearing.”

Bergano’s attorney Joe Waldo said, “They did not treat Dr. Bergano fairly, and they did not treat Dr. Bergano fairly as they did all the other dentists who had their property taken by the city.”

Three other dentists impacted by the Princess Anne Road and Kempsville Road intersection improvement project received over $283,867, over $298,518 and over $520,688.

During Wednesday’s hearing, it became clear it is possible the city can’t state exactly how those three dentists were compensated for their relocation costing taxpayers nearly $1,000,000 in settlements. It is surprising to those following the case that those numbers are not already at hand, as the information was part of a Freedom of Information Act request for information.

“This is taxpayer money. Now, they are going to have to go back to the city to spend more taxpayer money to decipher how these other dentists were paid, and under what category which is what the judge wanted to know,” Bergano says.

The city hired attorney Hunter Sims from Kaufman & Canoles to argue its case. On Wednesday, Sims seemed frustrated at the issues that remain. At one point, he told the judge, “Maybe we are wrong. I don’t think we are, but maybe we are… I still need to fight for my client.”

Judge Morgan appreciated that, but said, “I don’t think you have the ammunition to fight for your position.”

Outside court, before the hearing, Sims said, “I don’t have any comment we are still in litigation.”

Waldo said, “I think it was clear today the judge reiterated it today the city has not been fair to the Berganos.”

After the hearing, 10 On Your Side reached Virginia Beach’s Deputy City Attorney Chris Boynton by phone to respond to Judge Morgan’s statement on how he’s mystified how the city continues to treat Dr. Bergano poorly.

“That’s the judge’s perception, and he’s entitled to that,” Boynton said. “We respectfully disagree with the judge, and the city is keeping all options open… including a settlement… You have to negotiate with a willing partner, and so far the Berganos have not been willing partners.”