Environmental Contamination

In recent years, environmental contamination has become a serious concern in California, both because of the health hazards it presents and because of its damaging effect on property values. Government agencies seeking to acquire private property via eminent domain have been particularly concerned with soil contamination. Soil contamination often leads the agency to attempt to deduct the costs of cleaning up the contamination from the value of the property.

When an eminent domain action involves environmental contamination, property owners can rely on the California eminent domain lawyers at Peterson Law Group to help them pick up the pieces. As an AV Rated law firm, Peterson Law Group has been recognized for years of acquired legal experience in assisting those in the community while achieving professional excellence.

A government agency seeking to acquire private property by eminent domain will frequently have an environmental site assessment (ESA) performed before acquiring the land, either by purchasing it or by condemnation. The ESA must be performed by qualified professionals such as registered environmental assessors, registered civil engineers, or registered geologists, depending on the type of contamination and the type of assessments required. For the agency, an ESA serves three purposes: (1) to indicate that a certain parcel of land may not be suitable for a particular project; (2) to estimate acquisition costs, including environmental remediation costs; and (3) to acquire and budget sufficient funds to do any environmental work required.

An accurate estimate of the extent of environmental contamination is important for a number of reasons. First, if the contamination is severe, it may convince the agency that the particular property is not essential and that it should look to develop land elsewhere. Second, if contamination is overstated, the private property owner may be convinced to accept an offer from the agency that is much lower than the true fair market value of the land. Third, if environmental contamination is caused by an adjacent public works project, the property owner may have a case for inverse condemnation against the public agency responsible for the contamination.

Effective Legal Resources

The highly skilled Los Angeles real estate law attorneys at Peterson Law Group will choose highly qualified appraisers, experts, and consultants, who will study carefully any contamination on the site. Our legal team will coordinate this information and build a strong case for the property owner, giving both the agency and a jury a clear and thorough picture of the property's condition.

Many environmental contamination cases result in jury trials. When choosing an attorney to represent an environmental contamination case, a property owner should carefully consider the attorney's trial experience. At Peterson Law Group, our attorneys have practical experience with environmental contamination backed up by courtroom results. Our experience has helped our clients win results like those in the following examples:

  • $7.1 million for the owner of a multi-use income property that formerly housed a streetcar maintenance facility. The agency's original offer was $4.6 million.
  • $11 million for the owner of a commercial retail mall/swap meet on issues including inverse condemnation, eminent domain, and environmental remediation. The city had originally offered $7.7 million.

Recognition for Trial Achievements

John S. Peterson of the Peterson Law Group is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). He is also listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers as well as the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Mult-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Peterson Law Group represents property and business owners ranging from major corporations to smaller business and individual owners. We have represented cases against many public agencies throughout California. Our environmental contamination attorneys welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and help you assess the merits of your case.