All eminent domain attorneys know the importance of getting the Final Order of Condemnation right. After all, it's the document that gets recorded, effecting the transfer of title to the agency. But sometimes mistakes occur, and when they do, the condemning agency typically has a remedy.
In DFP, LTD v. Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, an unpublished opinion issued earlier this week, the agency requested a nunc pro tunc order revising the final order to correct a "scrivener's error." The error: the recorded final order stated that the agency acquired an easement, when what the agency actually condemned was a fee. (For those who didn't study Latin in high school, nunc pro tunc is just a fancy way of saying that the order is corrected retroactively.)
So far, so good. The court signed the order, and the corrected final order was recorded. There was just one, small problem. Between the date the "easement" final order was recorded and the date the "fee" final order was recorded, someone bought the property.
The result was a quiet title action by the buyer, arguing that the agency possessed only the easement interest reflected on title at the time the sale occurred. The buyer claimed to be a bona fide purchaser for value, not bound by the subsequent final order.
We don't yet know the final outcome of this story; the current opinion merely reverses a trial court order sustaining a demurrer, but regardless, if this one actually plays out, the lesson is easy to see: take extra care in getting that final order right the first time.
Rick Rayl is an experienced litigator on a broad range of complex civil litigation issues. His practice is concentrated primarily on eminent domain, inverse condemnation, and other real-estate-valuation disputes. His public ...
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