Eminent domain is the power of the government or public utilities to take property for public use. Locke Lord’s eminent domain lawyers are committed to litigating and representing the best interests of our clients in all proceedings relating to eminent domain and government takings. Our lawyers have the experience, depth and breadth to effectively and efficiently guide clients on comprehensively evaluating the true impact of a government taking of private property for public use. We begin our analysis by investigating whether project modifications can enhance the future utility of our clients’ property.
Our team has handled a full spectrum of eminent domain cases all across the United States. In addition to takings by governmental entities, the power of eminent domain is often also delegated to certain public and private companies, including utilities and other entities that build the infrastructure for telephone, power, water and gas lines. Property owners faced with losing property in eminent domain matters are protected by the U.S. Constitution as well as the constitutions of most states, which guarantee reasonable compensation, generally defined as fair market value. The process of taking land under eminent domain – called condemnation – is complex and needs experienced guidance from start to finish.
Early Awareness and Action
You may hear about a project for years before anything ever happens. Then, suddenly, the government sends a “here we come” letter with formal notice that you have property the government seeks to acquire. The letter may seek permission to enter your property to take surveys, perform tests or do other investigative work. Eventually, the condemning authority will make an offer for the affected property.
The sooner you understand the project and its impact on your property and take action, the better your chances are to protect the value and utility of your property. We consult with property owners on how to proceed when property is under the shadow of an anticipated taking, and we monitor significant developments on projects as they proceed from the planning, design and right-of-way acquisition stages, a process that can take years.