Domina Law Group's Property Dispute Practice
Raisin farmers in California, toll-road operators in Michigan, farmers
in Missouri, and business owners, farmers, and ranchers in Nebraska. These
are a few of the clients for whom we have provided services when the government
or private companies took land by use of its eminent domain or condemnation power.
Our suits against cities, counties, states, and even the federal government,
have given us expertise far beyond most trial lawyers in the specialized
area of eminent domain law.
Out of the last five condemnation cases the firm handled, we were able
to get our clients 390% more, on average, than what the appraisers estimated.
Widespread flooding led hundreds of Missouri River flood victims to consult
us. Government action to close off access led to our work for an Arizona
property owner. A taking of a centennial family farm, one homesteaded
by ancestors of the current owner, led the owner to court with us guiding
the way. Since 2010 we played a leading role in support of opponents of the
TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.
We understand the Fifth Amendment's takings clause. We understand condemnation,
know what it feels like to have property taken, and can handle eminent
domain and condemnation cases of any kind across the country.
Read Dave Domina's feature article "
Eminent Domain & For-Profit Energy Companies: Avoiding Unrest with
Condemnation & Eminent Domain Attorneys in Omaha, NE
Domina Law Group has extensive experience in all aspects of property disputes.
Neighbors, Towns, States, and even Countries can have disputes regarding
land and resources on or in the land that need resolving and this is often
done through the legal process.
Property disputes can also arise through Condemnation or Eminent Domain
actions. Condemnation is the process of taking private property for public
use through the power of eminent domain. When private property is taken
by the government, the owner is entitled to receive just compensation.
Of course it is in the Governments best interest to pay you the property
owner the least amount of money – this is where Domina Law Group steps in.
As a property owner, you can be compensated not only for the "Direct
Damages," the market value of the property actually taken or impaired,
but also "Severance Damages," are much more difficult to calculate
and the Government understands this and will often undervalue if recognize
Severance Damages at all.
Historically the Government has utilized its Power of Eminent Domain for
the purpose of condemning property to make way for something that is supposed
to benefit a large number of the public at large such as a new highway,
school, park, hospital, or other public project. Recently, however, the
law has changed to allow the Government to use its powers to take your
property and give it to other private companies or developers under the
theory these private entities will develop the property in a way that
is beneficial for the surrounding community.
Whatever the reason for the exercise of Condemnation, your rights need
to be protected. You need to be represented by Domina Law Group, a firm
with experience in fighting for the maximum amount of compensation a property
owner can obtain.
The fight over what is or is not "Fair Market Value" and whether
you are entitled to "Severance Damages" or not are not ones
you want to fight alone. Our law firm has more than 30 years of experience
dealing with eminent domain and property dispute issues. We can help.
Eminent Domain Examples
Consider the following example scenarios:
Example 1: Land Taken Decreases the Usefulness of a Property
In this example scenario, there is a car dealership that is situated on
a highway. Because the highway is heavily trafficked, it is being widened.
The car dealership displays its vehicles by placing them on a strip of
land along the highway in front of the building. This strip of land though
is going to be taken away in order to widen the highway, thereby eliminating
the car dealership's display area. There are both direct and indirect
implications here. Directly, damages will be proportionate to the value
of the land being taken. Indirectly, the taking of the land also harm's
the dealership's ability to display its merchandise, which will in
turn inevitably hurt the business' sales.
Example 2: Government Easement
In this scenario, there is a 25,000 square foot commercial property. 15,000
square feet of this property is a public easement which means that this
particular section of land on the commercial property cannot be used for
private purposes. Throw into the mix a 50-year-old septic system on the
property that will need to be replaced soon. What happens if the municipality
has a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet to warrant a septic system?
This particular property is also prohibited from using holding tanks and
public sewer systems do not service the property.
While the government is not taking the property, there are still damages
related to the government's ownership/easement. Because of this, there
are no direct or apparent damages, but there are hidden damages. The owner
is allowed use of all 25,000 square feet of his property, but after you
take away the portion that the government owns, he only has 10,000 square
feet. The septic system is old and will fail soon. When this happens,
the owner cannot replace it because zoning codes require a minimum of
20,000 square feet. Without a working septic system and no other options,
the owner will be virtually unable to use his property.
Example 3: Noncontiguous Parcels
This scenario involves a lumberyard that spans across two parcels of land.
On one parcel is the main building with the parking lot and on the other
parcel is the storage building/open yard area. The two parcels of land
that the lumberyard owns and operates on do not run together, but a street
separates them. Without both parcels, the lumberyard cannot function as
a business. In this scenario, say that the government wants to condemn
one of the parcels of land. Directly, the damages would be equal to the
total value of the condemned land. Indirectly, it is not just the one
parcel of land that is being affected. Because the lumberyard needs both
parcels to operate, condemning one parcel will inevitably result in the
inability of the lumberyard to operate.
Example 4: Road Project Makes Property Nonconforming
This scenario involves a commercial property that sits about 35 feet away
from the road. Comparative to the size of the parcel of land it sits on,
the building is undersized and could use an addition. In this particular
municipality, properties must have a 25-foot front yard setback. If the
government embarks on a project to widen the road, the building will lose
20 feet of depth across the front side of its property. The direct damage
is the value of the land the government is acquiring.
However, the building will now only have a front yard setback of 15 feet
which does not meet the municipality's requirement and is now considered
a nonconforming property. Not only this, but additions to the building
are no longer possible unless the property owner obtains a zoning variance,
which is not guaranteed.
Example 5: Access Loss
In another highway-widening scenario, a highway is being expanded to four
lanes with limited access. The only way to access a particular parcel
of land is from this highway. Access to the highway will no longer be
possible because the government taking a narrow strip for the expansion.
Not only is the government taking away a strip of land from the property
owner, it is taking away the only access to this parcel of land. If a
new access cannot be obtained (or it is extremely difficult to obtain)
then indirect damages could equal the total property value.
Example 6: Loss of Visibility
Picture a commercial property situated along a four-lane highway. In an
effort to upgrade the highway, overpasses and ramps are being constructed.
Because of this upgrade, the highway will be lowered a total of 20 feet
in front of the commercial property, resulting directly in a partial loss
of land (to build a retaining wall for the highway). In some states, a
loss of visibility can also be considered when calculating severance damages.
The loss of visibility alone is not enough to warrant compensation, only
in conjunction with land loss.
Below, view Brian Jorde's speech on property rights, landowner rights,
eminent domain and more at the annual Nebraska Farmer's Union convention: