Eminent Domain Lawyer
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Eminent Domain Lawyer
The government can seize property owned by a private citizen as long as two criteria are met. First, the seizure must benefit the public. And second, the government must provide the property owner with just compensation. Unfortunately, this does not always occur. It is also a confusing and complex area of the law for most private citizens, creating frustration and uncertainty for those who face a condemnation or eminent domain case. An eminent domain lawyer can help private citizens understand if they are the victim of an illegal taking or if the government overstepped its authority when it took their property.
Flint Cooper provides premier and aggressive representation to citizens across the United States. The firm consists of knowledgeable leaders and fighters who are not afraid to go up against the full force of the government to protect the rights of everyday Americans.
What is Eminent Domain Law?
Eminent domain law dictates when the government can and cannot take a private citizen’s property. The fundamental source of eminent domain law is the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. The Takings Clause makes it illegal for the government to take the property of a private citizen unless the seizure is for public use and the private citizen receives just compensation.
The government can seize the property of a private citizen by physically taking the property from the owner. This is called an actual taking. Or it can create regulations that restrict the owner’s use of the property so much that it amounts to a taking. This is called a constructive taking.
For example, let’s say the government made it illegal for people who live on a particular city block to use their front yards in any capacity at any time of day for an indefinite period. This government action might amount to a taking, even though the owners still have actual possession of their property.
At Flint Cooper, we understand how important it is for people to have access to their property or to receive just compensation when the government takes it. Often, there is a significant imbalance between the power of the government agency taking the private citizen’s property and the person facing an eminent domain action. Our firm exercises our authority and knowledge to help correct this differential and protect the constitutional rights of private citizens.
Government Taking Property: When Is it Permissible?
At a basic level, the government cannot take property unless it has the authority to do so. As stated, the Constitution gives the government the power to seize property for public use—as long as they pay the landowner just compensation.
Taking property includes situations where the government takes title to the land but also circumstances where the government only uses part of the land. For example, the government may install sidewalks, which take up some but not all of a landowner’s property. In other cases, the government may constructively take the property by doing something that prevents a landowner from fully using their land.
If there is a taking, the government must provide the private citizen with just compensation. The reimbursement they receive must be proportional to the amount of land taken, the restriction on the person’s use of the property, and the duration of the taking. For example, if the constraint is temporary, the landowner may receive less compensation than if it is for a more extended period.
Eminent Domain Examples
In many eminent domain cases, the government seeks to build a new facility, expand on an existing site, or put down new or better roads. Examples of eminent domain cases include when the government takes title to someone’s property to expand a neighboring government facility. Or they might buy a citizen’s house to construct a new post office. Finally, the government may seize farmland to expand on or build a new tollway system.
Eminent Domain vs. Condemnation: What Is the Difference?
Eminent domain is an action filed by the government to seize the property of a private citizen. Some also refer to this as a condemnation action, taking, or seizure of property. When a private citizen files a challenge to a government taking, it is often called an inverse condemnation action.
How to Identify Eminent Domain Abuse
Under the Fifth Amendment, the government must provide adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, and just compensation before they take someone’s property. In other words, it is usually illegal if the government shows up at someone’s door and demands they immediately hand over their house to the government under penalty of law.
Eminent domain abuse can occur if the government fails to follow the legal requirements. If the government did not give you and your family adequate time to prepare for the taking, this might constitute abuse. Likewise, if the compensation you received is inadequate, or you did not receive any compensation, the government likely overstepped its authority. An eminent domain lawyer can help by investigating the claim and taking the proper legal steps to hold the government accountable for its actions.
How Can People Dispute an Eminent Domain Matter?
The primary way for people to dispute a government taking is to file an inverse condemnation action. This type of lawsuit allows citizens to stand up against the government and challenge the legality of the taking. An attorney can help you prepare and present your case, or the attorney can present your case on your behalf. Given what is at stake, it is essential to have an effective strategy and a zealous attorney on your side to help fight against potentially unethical or illegal governmental tactics.
Flint Cooper applies its knowledge and experience to win trials, not just collect settlements, further strengthening its reputation of providing clients around the world with exceptional counsel and unparalleled advocacy.