In California, we have an admittedly odd way of determining whether the property or business owner in an eminent domain case is entitled to recover attorneys’ fees. (Note that I’m specifically talking about an owner’s ability to recover; California law does not provide for a condemning agency’s ability to recover fees). It’s actually fairly simple: just before trial, the owner and the agency exchange a Final Demand and a Final Offer. (See Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410.) If the case thereafter proceeds to trial, a jury will typically decide the amount of ...
According to an article in the Daily Republic, Jury: County owes $1.24M in eminent domain dispute, Solano County and a local land owner recently completed an eminent domain trial, and the jury sided with the owner. The case, Solano County v. Valine, involved the County's partial acquisition of about 10 acres through the middle of the owner's 82-acre farmland in order to develop the Suisun Valley Parkway.
Our esteemed colleague, professor Gideon Kanner, reports that the government agency initially offered $575,000 for the partial acquisition. After no agreement could be reached ...
According to an article in the Whittier Daily News, La Mirada agrees to pay $1.8 million to settle eminent domain case for new railroad underpass, the City of La Mirada has agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle the last eminent domain case involving acquisition of easements and property for the Valley View Avenue underpass at the BNSF Railroad crossing. The parties were likely close to trial as they had recently exchanged final offers and final demands (see Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410).
The $1.8 million settlement sounds like a good deal for the City, as the owner's final ...
Shortly before an eminent domain trial, a government agency and a property owner exchange a statutory final offer and final demand. The statute’s sole purpose is to encourage settlement before trial, providing a carrot (to the property owner) and a stick (to the condemning agency).
If the matter fails to settle before trial, the owner can seek an award of litigation expenses (i.e., attorneys’ fees and expert costs) if the court ultimately determines that, in light of the outcome, the agency’s final offer was unreasonable and the owner’s final demand was reasonable. (See ...
I read a really interesting blog post by Robert Thomas, 10th Cir: Landowner Not "Prevailing Party" Even Though They "Won $3.8 Million -- Much More Than The Government Ever Offered Them". It describes a recent 10th Circuit decision that denied the property owner an attorneys' fees award where (1) the property was valued at trial at $3.8 million and (2) the government's offer was a mere $186,500. What caught my attention was the mechanism by which the federal courts award fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), as compared to the fee-shifting rules in California.
Under the EAJA ...
In California eminent domain cases (this is an area in which the law varies dramatically from state to state), the property / business owner is entitled to an award of litigation expenses (including attorneys' fees) if (1) it makes a reasonable final demand for compensation and (2) the agency makes an unreasonable final offer of compensation. (See Code Civ. Proc. § 1250.410.)
How one analyzes "reasonableness" once the jury issues its verdict has been the subject of a number of court opinions. Tracy Joint Unified School Distract v. Pombo (Oct. 29, 2010) adds to that body of law.
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