In the eminent domain context, condemnation describes the formal act of transferring title of private property to a unit of government by using the government’s power of eminent domain. The legal process required before a California government agency can exercise the power of condemnation is complex and takes some time to complete. The experienced California eminent domain attorneys at Peterson Law Group have years of experience obtaining successful case outcomes for property owners who are facing eminent domain matters.
Planning to take private property for a road, development project, or other "public use" can begin years before a condemnation action occurs. California law requires any state government agency or county or city government to meet a number of requirements before bringing a condemnation action, also called an eminent domain action, in court. For property owners, dealing with the information the agency needs and the changes in the plans can be a difficult and frustrating experience.
The government unit attempting to acquire the property must make an offer to purchase it before bringing a condemnation action in court. The U.S. and California Constitutions both require this offer to represent "just compensation," generally understood to be the fair market value of the property.
Under California Law
California law allows property owners the opportunity to have the fair market value of the property decided by a jury, which hears evidence about the value of the property from both the government appraisers and the property owner. The skilled Los Angeles property rights attorneys at Peterson Law Group will therefore carefully select highly qualified appraisers when building a property owner’s condemnation case.
Property owners facing condemnation may be entitled to additional payments if the public agency acquires the property, only to let it sit instead of proceeding with development. Property owners are also entitled to compensation if only part of the property is condemned. This compensation is referred to as "severance damages."
Valuable Legal Strategies and Resources in LA & OC
In addition to offering just compensation, an agency seeking a condemnation of private property must also demonstrate that the public use planned for the property is necessary, that the property the agency seeks to acquire is the best place for the project, and that the public use outweighs the private harm to the property owner of losing his or her property. These issues can become complex. At Peterson Law Group, our experienced Los Angeles condemnation attorneys will analyze each situation and prepare a strategy that gives the jury a clear and thorough understanding of the issues surrounding the proposed condemnation.
Successful Jury Trial Experience
Condemnation proceedings are usually jury trials. A property owner seeking to hire an experienced California condemnation attorney should look carefully at the attorney’s trial experience. At Peterson Law Group, our attorneys have extensive eminent domain jury trial experience, reflected in courtroom results. The experience of our attorneys has helped clients like the following:
- $4.39 million in compensation for a business property owner’s fiberglass and resin products manufacturing business. Although the original offer was $1.76 million, the jury determined that just compensation for the real estate was in fact $3.4 million. An additional settlement of $992,740 compensated the business property owner for the loss of business goodwill and the costs of fixtures and relocation.
- $795,000 for a marine equipment supply company’s loss of business goodwill. The government agency’s appraiser had initially concluded that the value of the business goodwill was $0. The jury trial also provided for payment of attorney and expert fees and relocation of the business.
- $4.0 million for a parcel located diagonally from the Staples Center. The original offer was $840,000, which did not accurately reflect the property’s highest and best use. This jury award was upheld on appeal.
While we at Peterson Law Group believe that any property owner facing a condemnation action should be entitled to the help of experienced counsel, we also believe that selecting our cases carefully allows us to give the best possible personal attention to each client while also striving for the results each client deserves. Our condemnation attorneys welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and help you assess the merits of your case. Contact us today at (213) 236-9720 for more information.