Are there any absolute defenses to eminent domain in Ohio?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Eminent Domain |

Eminent domain empowers governments to acquire private property for public use, provided just compensation is paid to the owner. Ohio, like other states, adheres to this principle outlined in the United States and state constitutions, allowing the exercise of eminent domain only when deemed necessary and for a public purpose. If you find yourself facing eminent domain as a property owner in Ohio, understanding potential defenses becomes crucial to protect your rights.

Absolute defenses and eminent domain

An absolute defense in legal terms completely nullifies the opposing party’s claim without delving into other considerations. Unfortunately, Ohio does not offer straightforward, absolute defenses against eminent domain. The state’s constitution and laws grant considerable discretion to entities wielding eminent domain powers, such as utilities, railroads and pipelines. As long as the necessity and public purpose of the taking can be demonstrated, the process can proceed.

However, this does not imply a lack of recourse for property owners. While absolute defenses might not be readily available, various defenses can still be raised to challenge or modify the eminent domain action. We will examine four below.

Potential defenses to eminent domain

The first is the necessity challenge, in which you argue that the taking is unnecessary for the proposed project. Here, you demonstrate alternative routes or locations that would achieve the project goals with less impact on your property.

Next is the public purpose challenge. This argues that the taking serves a private benefit rather than a genuine public use. Here, you would show evidence that the project primarily benefits a specific developer or company rather than the broader public interest.

Another argument is the abuse or discrimination challenge, in which you argue that the taking violates constitutional rights, such as due process or equal protection. In this challenge, you demonstrate that the taking is motivated by discriminatory factors, whether racial, economic or through procedural violations.

Finally, there is the inadequate compensation challenge, in which you argue that the offered compensation is not just or reflective of the property’s value. Here, the strategy is to highlight unique features, potential uses or sentimental value not adequately considered in the government’s appraisal.


Understanding your rights when your property is at stake in an eminent domain action in Ohio is crucial. However, gathering evidence, negotiating with the government and navigating the legal process can be complicated.

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