Los Angeles Eminent Domain Lawyer

The Law offices of Fisher & Talwar represent clients in eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases throughout Southern California.

What is Eminent Domain?

Eminent Domain refers to a fundamental power of the government to take private property for a public purpose without the owner’s consent. The power of eminent domain is incorporated in both the United States and California Constitution. Specifically, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from taking private property for public use without just compensation and the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits state government from condemning private property without due process of law. While Article 1, Section 19 of the California Constitution is considered the foundation of California’s eminent domain law, the state’s comprehensive eminent domain law is found in California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 1230.010 – 1273.050.

Simply put, eminent domain is the power of the state to take private property for the use in a public project in return for reasonable compensation. Reasonable compensation is defined in terms of fair market value of the property.

Example 1: Private property is in the way of a road that must be expanded to accommodate public use. The condemning agency in the case partially or entirely overtakes the property through eminent domain action, if no agreement is reached first.

Example 2: Utility company needs to run power poles through your property; it can claim “easement” rights to use your property without actually possessing it.

Can’t Eminent Domain Power be Abused?

It certainly can. Eminent domain abuse has become a growing concern in many communities where a property developer convinces the city take private property for the purpose of redevelopment for profit. The law has gone as far as defining “public use” as “for the public good”, which are entirely different things. Under the “public good” definition, cities can claim private property and allow private developers to raise new buildings for the sole purpose of profit growth. There is an excellent 60 minutes article that shines light on the growing concern surrounding eminent domain abuse.

Why Should I Hire Los Angeles Eminent Domain Attorneys?

The eminent domain process can be complicated, confusing and often intimidating for a property or business owner (also known as the “condemnee”). Although it may appear that the government is protecting the interests of the condemnee, unfortunately this generally is not the case. More often than not, the primary focus of the condemning agency is to determine the cheapest way to acquire the desired property. Therefore, it is imperative that property and business owners faced with condemnation contact an experienced attorney at the earliest possible stage in the condemnation process. Consulting with an attorney who has extensive experience in eminent domain is the best way to ensure fair compensation for your losses.

My Property is Affected by Eminent Domain, What am I Entitled To?

Depending on the particulars of a case, a property owner may be entitled to compensation for any or all of the following:

  1. Fair market value of real property;
  2. Severance damages (i.e. damages resulting to the remainder after a portion of a larger parcel is condemned);
  3. Fixtures, equipment and/or improvements pertaining to realty;
  4. Precondemnation damages; and
  5. Relocation

Article 1, Section 19 of the California Constitution provides that “just compensation” must be paid for private property taken for public use. The courts have determined that this standard is measured by the property’s “fair market value”. Fair Market Value is defined in CCP 1263.320:

The fair market value of the property taken is the highest price on the date of valuation that would be agreed to by a seller, being willing to sell but under no particular or urgent necessity for so doing, nor obliged to sell, and a buyer, being ready, willing, and able to buy but under no particular necessity for so doing, each dealing with the other with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes for which the property is reasonably adaptable and available.

As provided by CCP 1263.320, “the fair market value of the property taken is the highest price on the date of valuation…” Since the definition of “fair market value” is somewhat uniquely defined by eminent domain law, it is imperative that condemnees consult with appraisers who have experience valuing real estate within the context of eminent domain. To achieve the best results, we consult with and retain appraisers who are not only experienced with preparing eminent domain appraisals, but who are comfortable testifying at deposition and trial.

How Does Eminent Domain Process Work?

If you searched for “what is eminent domain”, chances are you are facing eminent domain action and are seeking for answers about how eminent domain works. Before taking any action on your own, you should consult¬†eminent domain attorneys. Simply knowing what is eminent domain and educating yourself on the subject is not a substitute for complex legal knowledge possessed by eminent domain attorneys. Here is a quick summary of how eminent domain action works:

  1. Condemning agency with interest in your property hires an appraiser to inspect and appraise your property.
  2. Agency makes an offer, usually a low one.
  3. If you don’t work out a deal through negotiation with the condemning agency, a public hearing is scheduled where agency has to prove necessity for greatest public good.
  4. Condemning agency will next file a complaint against you in Superior Court. Agency will serve a summons and complaint on you and interested parties, requiring a response. You may challenge the complaint although it’s likely to be overruled.
  5. Agency must deposit “probable compensation” and file a motion for prejudgment possession. You may object once again. If motion is approved, agency may take possession of your property within 30 days.
  6. Your attorney will obtain appraisal reports from appraisers and expert witnesses to establish property’s fair market value. Reports are exchanged with condemning agency.
  7. Parties come to an agreement through mediation in most cases.
  8. If no settlement is agreed upon, condemning agency will provide a final offer.
  9. Trial is held to determine fair market value of your property and hear any other issues.

For a more detailed step by step explanation of how eminent domain action works please inquire about our free handbook. The handbook provides detailed answers to any questions you may have such as: What is eminent domain? What am I entitled to? How does eminent domain action work? and other important questions.

What Makes Us Different, And Why You Should Care

Unlike many other eminent domain firms, we are highly experienced in representing property and business owners whose properties have been taken or damaged by the government. Our representation begins with an evaluation of the proposed condemnation and a comprehensive analysis of specific project impacts and compensable damages. Once these matters have been thoroughly discussed with a client, our experienced attorneys develop a strategy based on the particular facts of the case to maximize compensation.

Over the years, attorneys at Fisher & Talwar have obtained tens of millions of dollars in compensation for condemnees. Attorneys at our firm are experienced in all aspects of eminent domain litigation and have successfully litigated direct and/or inverse condemnation cases against numerous government agencies throughout Southern California including the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD); Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA); Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE); California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS); and many cities, counties, redevelopment agencies and other school districts.

Our cases are handled by our Los Angeles eminent domain attorneys – a feature which distinguishes our firm from larger, more-impersonal litigation houses. Because we are selective in the cases we take on, we are able to devote more time and energy to each of our clients. By participating in every step of the process, our partners are able to effectively assist clients in identifying goals and advise them on how to best attain their desired results.

Eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases generally require multiple experts. Our attorneys consult with and retain top experts in the fields of real property appraisal, business appraisal, fixture and equipment appraisal, civil engineering, environmental testing and remediation as well as other experts qualified to render expert opinion regarding the operations of specific businesses or industries or specific issues such as traffic volume, access or zoning. If your property has been condemned or damaged as a result of a public project, it is important that you contact an attorney at the law firm of Fisher & Talwar. Whether you have been served with summons and complaint or if you simply have a question regarding eminent domain or inverse condemnation, we encourage you to contact an attorney at Fisher & Talwar.

Is your business or property being affected by eminent domain? Contact our Real Estate Attorneys Fisher & Talwar. Call us today at (213) 891-0777.

Results

Agency Acquisition of a High Rise Building

Initial Offer: $17,000,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $19,500,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Carpet Store

Initial Offer: $50,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $550,000.00

Agency Acquisition of a Motel

Initial Offer: $2,427,510.00
Compensation Obtained: $3,242,945.00

Agency Acquisition of a Church

Initial Offer: $4,162,500.00
Compensation Obtained: $4,500,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Tortilla Factory and Meat Market

Initial Offer: $1,213,555.00
Compensation Obtained: $1,800,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Dominos Pizza Franchisee

Initial Offer: $104,895.00
Compensation Obtained: $625,000.00

Agency Acquisition of a Motel

Initial Offer: $1,986,615.00
Compensation Obtained: $2,450,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Boat Trailer Manufacturing Business

Initial Offer: $192,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $630,000.00

Agency Displacement of Retail Piano Store

Initial Offer: $0
Compensation Obtained: 590,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Sign Company Business

Initial Offer: $1,520,054.00
Compensation Obtained: $2,300,000.00

Agency Displacement of 7-Eleven Franchisee

Initial Offer: $0
Compensation Obtained: $307,000.00

Small Acquisition of Frontage Portion of Large Heat Treating and Cold Stabilization Operation

Initial Offer: $356,000
Compensation Obtained: $1,335,000.00

Agency displacement of a restaurant business

Initial Offer: $90,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $367,000.00

Agency acquisition of a leasehold interest in a cell tower

Initial Offer: $0
Compensation Obtained: $190,000.00

Agency acquisition of an apartment building

Initial Offer: $450,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $660,000.00

Agency Displacement of an Auto Body Repair Business

Initial Offer: $675,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $1,040,000.00

Agency Displacement of an Appliance Sales and Repair Business

Initial Offer: $20,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $185,000.00

Agency Acquisition of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Facility

Initial Offer: $1,035,010.00
Compensation Obtained: $1,680,222.00

Agency Displacement of an Auto Repair Business

Initial Offer: $887,335.00
Compensation Obtained: $1,200,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Welding Business

Initial Offer: $20,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $185,000.00

Agency Displacement of a Sewing Business

Initial Offer: $0
Compensation Obtained: $97,697.00

Agency Displacement of an International Import Business

Initial Offer: $660,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $889,470.00

Agency Displacement of a Burger Restaurant

Initial Offer: $81,530.00
Compensation Obtained: $441,530.00

Agency Displacement of a Mexican Restaurant

Initial Offer: $46,315.00
Compensation Obtained: $371,315.00

Agency Displacement of a Check Cashing Business

Initial Offer: $57,500.00
Compensation Obtained: $197,500.00

Agency Displacement of a Restaurant Business

Initial Offer: $210,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $375,000.00

Agency Acquisition of Retail Property

Initial Offer: $329,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $445,000.00

Agency Acquisition of an Auto Repair Property

Initial Offer: $158,000.00
Compensation Obtained: $267,847.00

Agency Displacement of Restaurant

Initial Offer: $0
Compensation Obtained: $162,815.00

Agency Displacement of Bar

Initial Offer: $0
Compensation Obtained: $283,000.00