Contact | (904) 396-1900

What Happens When Your Eminent Domain Case Goes to Court

By on Dec 1, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Eminent domain is the power that the government has to obtain a piece of property for public use.  The government, thanks to eminent domain, can seize just about any type of property that they wish.  This could be something such as a piece of property, an office building, land, or something entirely different.  Intangible property qualifies as something the government could seize, as does personal property that may include personal assets that you have such as your automobile.  The boundaries for eminent domain are pretty endless as long as they are determined to be for public use and you are paid fair market value for the property.

There are instances, though, where an eminent domain case simply cannot be settled out of court.  When an eminent domain claim starts, the government and the owner of the property will begin to negotiate.  The disagreement usually comes from one or two areas.  One, the individual may not believe that the property is needed for public use.  The second area of disagreement could be over what is determined to be the fair market value of that piece of property.  When no settlement can be reached, the eminent domain case may go to court.

Period to Reach a Settlement or Agreement Ends

Once an eminent domain case goes to court, the period to reach a settlement or an agreement without any outside assistance also ceases to exist.  There is time, as long as a court is not involved, where you may come to an agreement with the government on an eminent domain case.  You may find that what they are offering you is fair in terms of what the market value is for your property.  In this case, you can accept it and decide that it is acceptable to take on that compensation in exchange for your property.  When that back and forth settlement breaks down, though, the eminent domain case will shift to a court room.  This is when the period to try and settle independently officially comes to a close.

Power Shifts to an Independent Third-Party

When an eminent domain case goes to court, the power shifts away from both the court, as well as the property owner.  Once it is in the hands of a court, the judge will act as an independent third-party that has the power to basically make a binding decision that the government and the property owner must follow.  If the judge determines that the government should pay $100,000 as fair market value in exchange for your property, then that is what is going to happen.  You as a property owner will be bound to give up the property in exchange for that amount from the government.  Prior to an eminent domain case going to court, the power still resides in the property owner and the government.  Once a judge gets his or her hands on it, though, the power shifts entirely and any decision is binding.

A Binding Decision is Passed Down

While an eminent domain case is going through the court system, there is going to be a great deal of deliberation by the judge based on the information obtained.  Both sides are going to have an opportunity to present their facts to the judge.  This could be facts that would back up the two main claims of eminent domain.  These facts would support the need for the property for public use and would also support what the true fair market value is being sought out.  When the judge makes a decision on the case, that decision is binding.  The property owner, as well as the government, will have no choice but to follow whatever decision is passed down from the judge.

Power is an important thing to try and retain in any eminent domain case.  This is why so many individual property owners try as hard as possible to reach an agreement with the government without going to court.  This gives both the individual and the government the power to negotiate independently so that they can come to an agreement that they are both comfortable with.  Once the case goes to court, a judge can make any decision that he or she pleases.  That decision, which is binding, will settle a case in a manner in which the property owner may not make out as they thought they would.