Eminent domain and inverse condemnation

Eminent domain and inverse condemnation are two sides of the same coin. Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use, which is predicated upon the just compensation of the aggrieved landowner. The right to just compensation is preserved in the United State Constitution. The Constitution also provides that the government may only take private property if it will be put to public use, but a number of court cases have interpreted the scope of “public use” very loosely. In practice, there is little ground to defeat an action to condemn property under the power of eminent domain. Most litigation surrounding this type of action regards the value the government must pay for the taking.


If the government takes, damages, or places such onerous restrictions on the use of private property that it constitutes a taking, without first obtaining a court order to condemn the property or without paying just compensation, the landowner may bring an action for inverse condemnation. The landowner will argue that the governmental action affects his or her property to such an extent that it constitutes a taking and can thus demand just compensation. In most inverse condemnation actions, the “taking” complained of is not the loss of possession of the property to the government. An action will typically involve a claim that the government has obtained some interest in, damaged, or placed unreasonable restrictions on the landowner’s property. For instance, if the a rural county is building a small airport, and the zoning board reclassifies property as an airport safety zone, foreclosing any development, the owners of the property located in the zone could file a complaint that their property had been taken by the government without just compensation. The process of creating the safety zone should have been accomplished by filing an action for condemnation through power of eminent domain, but in the absent the appropriate proceedings, the landowner would be forced to file suit for inverse condemnation against the governmental unit that restricted the land use.


Whether you are fighting condemnation brought through the exercise of eminent domain, or if you need to bring an action for inverse condemnation to obtain just compensation for property already taken, the experienced attorneys at Neumann Law Group are ready to assist. Call for a free consultation.

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