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Why are Courts Often Involved in Cases Concerning Eminent Domain?


Eminent domain gives government entities the right to purchase land from citizens, at a just price, to obtain for public use. Although eminent domain is an established right of the government, citizens do have the right to dispute claims and fight terms of an eminent domain case. It is not uncommon for a person to bring an eminent domain case to court, for various reasons, including:

  • to help determine a fair price when property is taken
  • to help determine the fairness of specific instances of eminent domain

Determining Just Compensation

One of the most common reasons that eminent domain cases are brought to court is over disputes about just compensation. The takings clause in the United States Constitution that established the government’s power of eminent domain states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The consideration of “just compensation” is left up to interpretation. A person can dispute an eminent domain claim in court if they feel that the government has not offered them a fair amount of funds to purchase their property.

In general, just compensation means an amount that is equal to or greater than the market value of a property. An eminent domain settlement or award may include additional compensation that accounts for the cost of moving out of a home, displacing a business, or other resulting damages.

Disputes and Appeals

Some cases that are brought to court center on whether an eminent domain claim is fair at all. A property owner can dispute an eminent domain order in court if they feel that the government is not within their rights to acquire their property. These disputes can relate to the “public use” consideration of eminent domain. The takings clause established that property can only be purchased by the government under the powers of eminent domain if the property will be used to benefit the public. A property owner can debate the government’s power of public domain if there is evidence to show that the acquisition is an attempt to serve private or business interests or is otherwise unjust.

If your property is the subject of an eminent domain case, Allen Semelsberger & Kaelin, LLP can help. We can provide support if you are interested in disputing a claim, want to ensure you receive just compensation, and in every area of your case.

Call (888) 998-2031 or send us a message to schedule a no-cost consultation with our attorneys.