Eminent domain attorneys struggle with a concept foreign to most civil litigators: figuring out the roles of the judge and jury. Even most non-attorneys know the basic rule of trial: the jury is the "fact-finder." But in eminent domain cases, things are a bit different.
The jury still acts as fact-finder, but only in one arena: the quest to determine the amount of just compensation to which the owner is entitled. This narrow scope means that the judge ends up ruling on all issues of law, plus mixed issues of fact and law, plus pure issues of fact to the extent those issues don't go to the issue of ...
It appears the raisin handlers' luck in the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision Horne v. US Department of Agriculture has spawned a new federal takings challenge by another group of fruit growers. This time it's a group of tomato growers asserting a takings challenge against the federal government, with a bit of a twist. (And yes, I had to check, but both raisins and tomatoes are technically fruits -- see the things you learn?)
According to an article in the Packer, Tomato growers say eminent domain applies to 2008 crop, tomato growers are suing the federal government for $40 million in ...
Money is once again being allocated to improve public infrastructure in California. The California Transportation Commission announced this week the award of $487 million to various projects throughout the state. Included are:
- San Bernardino Associated Governments' (SANBAG) Lenwood Road Railroad Grade Separation Project in the City of Barstow.
- Orange County Transportation Authority's (OCTA) Lakeview Avenue Grade Separation Project in the City of Placentia.
- The Richmond Rail Connector for a new route between San Pablo and Richmond.
- Several Caltrans State Highway ...
Over the past several months, the United States Supreme Court and the California Courts of Appeal have issued several significant regulatory takings opinions addressing the liability of government agencies for enacting regulations or otherwise conditioning proposed developments. To really dig into these opinions and their importance, Law Seminars International will be putting on a one-hour telebriefing, Regulatory Takings Claims In California, on August 19 at 1 p.m. (PST). I will be moderating the discussion with two other outstanding regulatory takings attorneys: Robert ...
We all knew this was coming (see my post from July 23). If you poke a sleeping giant, it's going to file a lawsuit against you in federal court. Yesterday, in response to the City of Richmond's preliminary actions to condemn underwater mortgages, three heavy-hitting banks fired back by filing lawsuits in California federal court to block the condemnations.
According to multiple news sources (here, here and here), Wells Fargo Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. have asked the court to find the City's plan unconstitutional and block its implementation. The banks argue ...
The Press Democrat is reporting that Sonoma County has agreed to pay $815,000 to acquire by eminent domain a family's 6.5-acre property next to the Charles M. Schulz airport for a runway extension project, settling the contentious case on the eve of trial. According to the article, Landowners, Sonoma County settle airport expansion lawsuit, the County valued the property at $135,000, while the owner's appraiser reached a valuation conclusion of $1.5 million. Why the large spread in appraisals? Apparently because of a dispute over the property's highest and best use.
To provide ...
As an eminent domain lawyer, I sometimes feel about takings claims like Justice Potter Stewart felt about obscenity: I know it when I see it. But every so often, a case comes along that reminds us that we might need to dig just a little bit deeper.
In TrinCo Investment Co. v. United States, No. 2012-5130 (July 18, 2013), it all starts out seeming so simple. The government comes onto private property without permission, takes $6.6 million worth of timber without asking, and then wanders off without offering so much as a dime in just compensation. Hard to miss this one: it's an obvious taking.
It's not too often a property owner succeeds with an inverse condemnation/regulatory takings claim based on a general plan amendment or zone change. The owner must generally demonstrate that the regulation either on its face, or when specifically applied to the owner's property, deprives the owner of the economically beneficial uses of the property. The first attack (a "facial challenge") is difficult to prove, as it is uncommon that a general plan amendment/zone change is drafted in such a way that it -- on its face -- prevents all economic uses of the property. The second attack (an ...
The City of Agoura Hills is moving forward with its plans for the U.S. 101/Palo Comado Canyon Road Interchange at Chesebro Road. According to the City,
The City has received approval from the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on the Project Study Report (PSR), which is the document that identifies the deficiencies of the interchange and future issues while identifying the most likely construction improvements that will resolve existing and future traffic issues.
Though the project is still in the design phase, it has ...
The City of Santee's Prospect Avenue Widening Project is moving forward, and because the City has not been able to secure all the necessary right of way voluntarily, the City is now poised to condemn the remaining interests it needs for the project.
On July 10, the City adopted a resolution of necessity which allows the City to proceed with the eminent domain actions on as many as 43 property interests, including several full take acquisitions, along with many partial takes and temporary construction easements.
A July 23 article in the Santee Patch, Santee Council OKs Property Seizures ...
California Eminent Domain Report is a one-stop resource for everything new and noteworthy in eminent domain. We cover all aspects of eminent domain, including condemnation, inverse condemnation and regulatory takings. We also keep track of current cases, project announcements, budget issues, legislative reform efforts and report on all major eminent domain conferences and seminars in the Western United States.
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