Eminent domain can make you feel like you own nothing

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2023 | Firm News |

Do you have a favorite jacket? Maybe you inherited it from your father or grandmother. What if, one day, you are walking down the street, and a random person walking down the road offers you $100 for it? They show you three recent online sales where it sold for $95, $100 and $95. It is the exact same coat. Of course, you refuse.

It has sentimental value, and you would never sell it. But, they are incensed. This person simply cannot understand why you refuse to sell for fair market value. Luckily, no one can force you to sell your favorite jacket, but if you own a family plot of land or home, and the government comes for it, your luck has run out.

Eminent domain

The process of eminent domain allows both state and federal governments to take your Maumee, Ohio, land and any improvements (homes, crops, barns, etc.) on it, even if you do not want to sell it. Of course, this taking is supposed to be for a public use, but often, these reported public uses are private uses or business uses masquerading as public benefits. You will receive what the government deems “just compensation,” or if you fight it in court, fair market value for the property, but rarely can you stop the taking itself.

Just compensation

The right of state and federal governments to take your land is enshrined in the constitution, but so is your right to receive just compensation. What this means is the vast majority of current litigation as courts have largely allowed governments to qualify anything as a public use. Unfortunately, since you are not a willing seller, the buyer is not engaging in a good-faith negotiation.

The government, in essence, is engaging in a forced sale. This means, in trying to determine fair market value, they are creating a legal fiction of a phantom seller, which is not you, and a disinterested buyer, which is not the government, over the value of your greater Toledo metro area property that does not have special values, which it does by the very fact that there is an eminent domain action. As a result, to call whatever conclusion the courts reach as “just” is laughable, but it is why you need counsel to maximize that value.

Eminent domain is not done unilaterally

While the government may act like the eminent domain price is a forgone conclusion, it is not. The price they offer to pay upfront is just that, an offer. However, that amount can be litigated and increased with the help of expert northwest Ohio witnesses and counselors.

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