eminent-domain

Eminent Domain, Inverse Condemnation, and the Bert Harris Act: Our firm has trial and appellate experience regarding eminent domain cases, including representation of both private and public clients.  Under the Florida and United States constitutions, a landowner’s right to his or her property is protected. Whenever a governmental agency “takes” a landowner’s property for a public purpose, the government must fairly compensate the landowner for the property taken.  Eminent domain (or “condemnation”) is the legal concept where the government institutes a lawsuit in order to “take” a landowner’s property. For instance, when the Florida Department of Transportation seeks to widen a road, it must “take” private property. In order to do so, the Department must file a lawsuit to “take” the property and pay the landowner for the property “taken.” Often, the landowner and governmental agency disagree as to the amount of compensation that is owed.  In an “inverse condemnation,” the lawsuit is filed by the landowner who believes the government has “taken” his or her property without instituting an action or providing compensation. For instance, if a governmental agency denied a building permit or flooded a landowner’s property such that the property was “taken,” then the landowner may institute an “inverse condemnation” lawsuit in order to obtain fair compensation from the governmental agency. When it enacted the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act, the Florida Legislature recognized that some laws, regulations, and ordinances of the state and political entities in the state may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights without amounting to a taking under the State Constitution or the United States Constitution.  When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government. Whether a landowner’s property rights have been affected by a governmental action depends on the facts of each case. When such a situation arises, it is important to contact a lawyer to discuss all legal options.