California’s Condemnation and Inverse Condemnation Laws
Eminent domain refers to the government’s right to take private property for public use. However, the government must provide property owners just compensation for their losses.
Condemnation proceedings are initiated by governments. Meanwhile, inverse condemnation suits are brought by property owners who believe that the government has overstepped its eminent domain authority. The latter is becoming more common in the face of urban population growth.
Today, the rising demand for conventional energy sources has resulted in a profusion of pipeline easements. As a rule, the United States government can acquire easements by citing eminent domain in condemnation proceedings. By extension, pipeline easements allow government-affiliated developers to conduct infrastructure development on private land.
The problem arises, however, when developers and utility companies offer low or marginal levels of compensation for pipeline easements. Property owners can feel blindsided by what they consider unequal agreements that disproportionately benefit pipeline developers. Inverse condemnation suits focus on how landowners can obtain just compensation for public sector projects or takings.
Have an Attorney in Condemnation and Inverse Condemnation Cases
In 2000, the small Connecticut city of New London transferred its eminent domain powers to a private development firm. City officials claimed that a new Pfizer research center would revitalize the economically stagnant region, so they moved to condemn about 100 homes in the Trumbull neighborhood of New London. The goal was to clear the way for the Pfizer center to be built.
Many homeowners disagreed with the city’s interpretation of “public use.” They argued that eminent domain did not cover the taking of private property by private enterprise. The city of New London, however, maintained that the Takings Clause within the Fifth Amendment justified its actions.
In Kelo vs. New London, the owners of fifteen properties refused to sell. One of them was Susette Kelo, who owned a little pink home overlooking the river. In response, the city moved to initiate condemnation proceedings against the group. So, condemnation is the legal process used to facilitate eminent domain acquisitions. The city argued that the new Pfizer center and business park would create hundreds of well-paying jobs in New London; thus, its actions met the Fifth Amendment’s “public use” qualification.
Many argue that the provisions in the Fifth Amendment are clear. However, the plaintiffs in Kelo vs. City of New London discovered otherwise. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in support of the government’s right to delegate eminent domain rights to private enterprises.
As for pipeline easements, the question remains: do pipelines meet the “public use” provision in the Constitution? More importantly, how can stakeholders protect themselves when economic development projects threaten their inherent rights? Here’s a little-known fact: while the federal Natural Gas Act provides for the use of eminent domain in pipeline construction, it cannot abrogate individual state laws that ban the use of eminent domain.
Therefore, hiring the right condemnation or inverse condemnation attorney is crucial when challenging eminent domain provisions such as compensation payments, easements, or right-of-way agreements. An experienced eminent domain law group can help you negotiate better terms and obtain just compensation for easements and construction-related surface terrain damages.
Work with Our Condemnation and Inverse Condemnation Attorneys in Irvine, California.
At Palmieri Tyler, our attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of eminent domain law. We have over three decades of experience in this area, have litigated over 2,000 cases, and won million-dollar settlements for our clients.
In condemnation and inverse condemnation suits, we can help you determine what is just compensation for your losses. Additionally, we can also provide guidance on property valuations, so that you get a fair assessment of your property’s worth.
Although it’s possible to represent yourself in a lawsuit, you must be prepared. Remember that your opponents are powerful governmental entities with extensive legal teams.
Many property owners may not be aware that developers and utility companies must meet strict guidelines to earn eminent domain rights. According to the 1938 Natural Gas Act, parties seeking to engage in pipeline construction activities must obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
As a rule, the FERC will only confer certificates after determining that the proposed project unequivocally contributes to the present and future public welfare. According to the law, the certificate authorizes the holder to obtain the necessary property rights when voluntary agreements cannot be reached with property owners. However, stakeholder perspectives can largely influence the FERC review process.
At Palmieri Tyler, our team of dedicated attorneys will advocate for your rights in condemnation proceedings. We are familiar with the complexities of eminent domain law and have helped many clients obtain the compensation they were entitled to.
How Our Condemnation and Inverse Condemnation Attorneys Can Help
When you contact us, our eminent domain attorneys help you take the first steps towards securing your rights.
Our qualified condemnation and inverse condemnation attorneys can help you obtain compensation for:
- Eminent domain takings due to freeway, infrastructure (oil/pipeline construction as well as water and power facilities), and public street projects
- Takings for temporary and long-term construction easements
- Takings for public walking trails, open spaces, and bike trails
- Severance damages for the devaluation of your property
- Relocation expenses as a result of condemnation actions
- Damages from landslides
- Damages resulting from the government’s pre-condemnation conduct
Our talented team of attorneys has successfully taken on cases that were declined by other legal firms. As Southern California’s premier law firm, we have a successful track record in representing clients in condemnation and inverse condemnation proceedings against government entities. Patrick Hennessey, the chairperson of our firm’s eminent domain/valuation litigation group, has handled nearly 500 condemnation and inverse condemnation cases for more than 35 years. Currently, he has a 5.0 score on the Martindale-Hubbell peer rating system.
Patrick is joined by Michael Kehoe and Michael Leifer, who have both helped clients win sizable settlements in condemnation and inverse condemnation proceedings. For more information, or if you would like to speak to one of our attorneys, please contact our law office in Irvine, CA to schedule an initial consultation at (949) 851-7294. Alternatively, you can also use our online contact form.