The Ohio Supreme Court is not required to accept and hear every case that is filed with it. The Court recently exercised its discretion by declining to hear an appeal from a case involving the new Maumee River Bridge.

The case

In 2018, three eminent domain commissioners sought to exercise the right of eminent domain by filing a civil lawsuit intended to acquire land for the bridge approaches near Napoleon. The commissioners sought to establish new right-of-way for highways that allowed traffic access to the new bridge. The proposed right-of-way will cross the Maumee River and reach State Route 110.

One of the landowners who would lose land to the project answered the commissioners’ suit by asserting that the eminent domain proceeding exceeded the commissioners’ lawful authority and also that the bridge was not intended to serve a public purpose but instead to benefit the Campbell’s soup plant. In dismissing the counterclaim, the trial judge ruled that the highway provided a public benefit by connecting two or more public highways

Dismissal of the counterclaim

The trial judge dismissed the property owners’ counterclaim. The landowner then appealed the ruling to the Ohio third District Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial judge’s ruling.

The landowner then filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court. The Court rejected the petition.

The landowner also filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court seeking an injunction against the eminent domain proceeding, but that has not moved forward.

What next?

The Supreme Court’s refusal to accept the appeal in effect affirms both the ruling of the trial judge and the appellate court. The case will return to the district court for the trial of the condemnation petition. The landowner will have the opportunity to present evidence regarding the value of his property. The landowner will have the right to appeal from any determination of value, but the validity of the proceeding itself has be resolved in favor of the condemning authority.

Anyone who is served a petition for a taking of all or a portion of private property may want to consult a lawyer who is experienced in eminent domain law. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide an estimate of the likely award, suggest strategies for resisting the condemnation action, and organize and present evidence at the trial.