Florida law has long recognized that eminent domain is a harsh proceeding. In eminent domain proceedings, private property owners – through no fault of their own – will have their land taken from them. Private property owners typically have no choice in the matter. They must give up their property, no matter whether they have been living or working on the property for decades.
Because eminent domain is such a harsh proceeding, Florida law provides numerous procedural safeguards to protect private property owners before their property can be taken. As just a few examples, to take private property via eminent domain in Florida, condemning authorities (e.g., governmental entities vested with the power of eminent domain) must: (1) upon request, provide property owners with an appraisal of the value of the taking; (2) provide a good faith deposit for the value of the taking; and (3) provide evidence of the public necessity for the project that causes the taking.
Despite these well-established legal safeguards, some Florida condemning authorities have chosen to ignore them. These condemning authorities have taken private property without notice or compensation to private property owners.
When a condemning authority oversteps its authority in this way, private property owners have a remedy. They can sue for inverse condemnation.
In an inverse condemnation case, a judge will make an initial ruling to determine whether the condemning authority illegally took the property at issue. If the judge determines that an illegal taking occurred, the Court will enter an Order of Taking, and the case will proceed to the compensation phase. During the compensation phase, discovery will occur regarding the value of the property taken and resulting damages to any remainder property. After the completion of discovery and if the case does not settle, a jury trial will resolve whatever compensation issues exist.
The attorneys at Fixel & Willis, through their decades of experience representing private property owners, have handled many inverse condemnation cases throughout the state of Florida. If you have a question about inverse condemnation or any other Florida eminent domain issue, please contact Fixel & Willis’s firm administrator, Susie Harris, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone toll-free at 1-800-848-7535.