In the vast majority of cases, when a public agency exercises eminent domain, the only issue in dispute is the amount of just compensation the agency must pay for the property being acquired. Even in situations where a property owner challenges the agency's right to take, it is typically for procedural reasons that can ultimately be corrected. However, where a property owner successfully challenges the agency's right to take, the consequences can be significant, as the agency is required to pay the property owner's litigation expenses -- including attorneys' fees, expert fees, and ...
On February 9, 2017, California Assembly Member Phillip Chen (a Republican from the 55th district) introduced Assembly Bill 408 (AB 408). You can find a copy of the bill here. AB 408 is styled as an act to amend Section 1250.410 of the Code of Civil Procedure relating to eminent domain. There is very little history available on AB 408 and it appears that the next action is for it to be heard in committee on March 12, 2017. If AB 408 is ultimately approved in its current form, it would radically change the standards by which courts decide whether or not to award litigation expenses in eminent ...
Eminent domain litigation can be expensive. Acquiring small strips of property often costs more in legal and appraisal costs than the value of the property itself. Sometimes public agencies have no choice but to condemn these minor acquisitions, as property owners cannot be found, will not negotiate, or otherwise take unreasonable positions. But when property owners are willing to reasonably negotiate, public agencies need to think hard about these cost savings and weigh them against setting a precedent for other acquisitions.
For example, if it will cost an agency $20,000 in ...
On occasion, public agencies decide to abandon or partially abandon an eminent domain proceeding. The most typical reason is due to a revision in project design, making the property no longer necessary for the proposed project. However, to the surprise of many, an abandonment can also occur after an agency receives an unfavorable jury verdict. Code of Civil Procedure section 1268.510 provides that an agency "may wholly or partially abandon the proceeding" any time after filing the complaint up until 30 days after the entry of final judgment. (The only exception is if the ...
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 ...
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.
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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