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Jason Marlin
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Eminent domain is the power of the government or public utilities to take property for public use. Locke Lord’s eminent domain lawyers are committed to litigating and representing the best interests of our clients in all proceedings relating to eminent domain and government takings. Our lawyers have the experience, depth and breadth to effectively and efficiently guide clients on comprehensively evaluating the true impact of a government taking of private property for public use. We begin our analysis by investigating whether project modifications can enhance the future utility of our clients’ property.

Our team has handled a full spectrum of eminent domain cases all across the United States. In addition to takings by governmental entities, the power of eminent domain is often also delegated to certain public and private companies, including utilities and other entities that build the infrastructure for telephone, power, water and gas lines. Property owners faced with losing property in eminent domain matters are protected by the U.S. Constitution as well as the constitutions of most states, which guarantee reasonable compensation, generally defined as fair market value. The process of taking land under eminent domain – called condemnation – is complex and needs experienced guidance from start to finish.

Here are just a few examples of the eminent domain work Locke Lord has completed for clients:

  • Secured jury verdict for a four story office tower when the State’s project impacted the accessibility of the property throughout construction and for fire service post-construction that was a substantial increase over State’s appraisal (office building in Texas)
  • Secured jury verdict in a condemnation case for a Fortune 500 company when their corporate campus was robbed of its tree cover and lost aspects of the property making it unique in the marketplace that was a substantial increase over State’s appraisal (corporate campus in Texas)
  • Secured jury verdict for a hotel franchisee that was a substantial increase over State’s trial appraisal when hotel had to be bisected and rebuilt (hotel in Texas)
  • Negotiated pre-trial settlement that was a substantial increase in compensation and a more favorable timeline to do necessary curative work (hotel in Georgia)
  • Negotiated redesign of a sewer lift station to virtually eliminate the impact on the property owner (hotel in Minnesota)
  • Substantial in-trial settlement over State’s appraisal for a garden office owned by a family trust when the State’s project impacted the accessibility of the property throughout construction and for fire service post-construction (office building in Texas)
  • Secured early settlement for publicly-traded hotel operator with substantial increase over State’s offer (hotel in Texas)
  • Secured early settlement for regional retail developer where a portion of the center was bisected and another portion lost parking with substantial increase over State’s offer (retail power center in Texas)
  • Negotiated redesign of a service road widening to virtually eliminate the impact on the property owner (car dealership in Texas)

Early Awareness and Action

You may hear about a project for years before anything ever happens. Then, suddenly, the government sends a “here we come” letter with formal notice that you have property the government seeks to acquire. The letter may seek permission to enter your property to take surveys, perform tests or do other investigative work. Eventually, the condemning authority will make an offer for the affected property.

The sooner you understand the project and its impact on your property and take action, the better your chances are to protect the value and utility of your property. We consult with property owners on how to proceed when property is under the shadow of an anticipated taking, and we monitor significant developments on projects as they proceed from the planning, design and right-of-way acquisition stages, a process that can take years.