Eminent Domain & Inverse Condemnation

Eminent domain

Eminent Domain is the power of the state to take private property for a public purpose or use. Condemnation proceedings is the legal procedure that the government would use.  Government must follow the condemnation process  and pay fair market value . If your property is the object of a governmental action get a good attorney to stand up for your rights. Normally a public purpose might be a road or easement for utility lines. However, the government has been allowed to take private property for another private property owners use,provided there is a discernible public purpose. Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)

Over the past years, many States have passed eminent domain legislation in response to the US Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005). 

Iowa passed legislation that requires the government or condemning authority to pay a property owner's attorney's fees and costs in eminent domain cases when certain criteria are met. Iowa Code § 6B.33 states that attorney's fees and costs, including the reasonable cost of one appraisal may be recovered in Iowa as determined by the commissioners if the award given is at least 110% of the final offer made by the condemning authority. The property owner must submit an application for fees and costs prior to adjournment of the final meeting held by the commission to determine compensation. The condemning authority shall pay all reasonable costs and incurred fees, unless on the trial date, a lesser amount of damages is awarded.

If you're affected by eminent domain, you should obtain a consultation so that you know and understand your rights before taking any action. The team of you, your attorney, an appraiser, and other experts, such as a land planner or engineer will be up against the government (with its vast resources).

Remember, the government is like any buyer, they will want to purchase your property as cheaply as possible, and their appraisers may neglect to consider damages that can lead to a larger amount of just compensation. The usual procedure in a condemnation proceeding is that the condemning agency attempts to negotiate the purchase of the property for a fair value.  If the owner refuses to sell, the agency files an action before court.  After hearing  the owner of the property and the condemning agency, if the government is successful in its petition, proceedings are held to establish the fair market value of the property.  If the government is not successful, or if the property owner is not satisfied with the outcome, either side may appeal the decision.

State governments, including Iowa and Illinois,  have also delegated some of the power of eminent domain to  cities and counties. 

We are ready and able to assist you, having had many clients faced with the eminent domain process against their will and which we successfully obtained a good results for our client

Inverse Condemnation

Property owners, sometimes  are faced with situations where the government (state, county, municipal.) does something that permanently affects the way we enjoy our property, and does so without our consent. If the property owner is not compensated for this, the legal method through which the property owner can receive compensation is called "inverse condemnation." Kingsway Cathedral v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 711 N.W.2d 6 (Iowa 2006). Iowa courts have reviewed a wide array of inverse condemnation situations, including: property that consistently floods following road construction projects, ordinances that prohibit nuisance lawsuits for odors emanating from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and zoning actions affecting the use of a property. If successful, the property owner is entitled to the difference in market value of the property before and after the government's action. 

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