Friday, Sept. 20, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, Reno, by Pier Talenti, now a U.S. citizen, who claims the total paid by the government for all the Italian properties taken during the nine-year period was $620,000 - a fraction of their actual value.
The litigation, filed by Talenti's lawyer, George Abbott, seeks a jury trial on petitions to declare the rights and obligations of the parties and to grant the damages.
Abbott said the lawsuits seek $1.4 billion in compensatory damages plus another $4.1 billion in punitive damages from Italy and Rome. The actions name Italian President Oscar Scalfaro, Rome Mayor Franceso Rutelli and other top officials.
Talenti, a Rome native who now lives at Lake Tahoe, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1961. He said the properties that were downzoned and expropriated are within the city of Rome and in four agriculturally rich provinces running as far north as Florence.
Talenti is now head of Detroit Testing Laboratory Inc. He said he also served as a presidential aide during the Nixon and Reagan administrations - and faced "trumped-up charges" in Italy that he had plotted to overthrow the Italian government.
Even though he was eventually exonerated, Talenti said he was effectively banished from Italy for years and was unable to manage his properties. His business entities included Anonima Laziale Bonafiche Agrarie (ALBA) and Societa Italiana Risanamento Agrarie (SIRA).
In seeking a civil trial on his request for damages, Talenti said the U.S. court system has jurisdiction under federal law prohibiting violations of various treaties between this country and other nations, including Italy.
Abbott also attached to the complaint a letter sent last month from the U.S. Embassy in Rome to the Italian government stating that Talenti, as a U.S. citizen, was deprived of his treaty rights.
Talenti waged a long legal battle in Italy that ended with dismissals of his case by the Court of Rome in 1988, by the Court of Appeals of Rome in 1990 and by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation in 1994.