Inverse Condemnation (Land Takings)
Losing your property due to financial circumstances or situations beyond your control is difficult but having it unlawfully taken from you without anything in return is unthinkable. When the government takes your property without following proper procedures and/or providing correct compensation then you, as the owner of your property has the right to bring an inverse condemnation claim. A taking is defined as encroachment by the government on private property for its own use. There is a provision in the constitution, under the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment, however that requires the government provide just compensation to the property owner in situations like this.
There are multiple ways that an inverse condemnation action can occur. For example, inverse condemnation actions have been brought against:
- Owners and operators of airports based on the wrongful appropriation of aviation easements
- A city based on construction of a park without a properly functioning storm water management system that caused the continuous flooding of a developer’s property during a part of one year
- A city for destroying buildings, under an assertion of the police power
- A county for causing substantial loss of access to a commercial property
- A county based on the provisions of a county code restricting a property owner from building a residential dwelling unit on the owner’s property
- The State Department of Transportation, for taking a right-of-way across property
- A state authority for causing property to be subject to flooding
- The State Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services based on the destruction of citrus plants that had no obvious signs of disease
If a situation like this has happened to you then you may have a right to bring action and right the wrong that has been done against you.
Pursuing an Action
If any of these types of scenarios have happened to you then you could have a reason to bring an action. In an inverse condemnation suit, the landowner files a claim showing that they own the property and that there was an interference by a public authority. The goal of the suit will be for the property owner (you) to either get just compensation for the property or for the governmental authority to purchase a limited interest in the property. For you to be able to bring an action, you must be able to show evidence that the government took the property and that they had an interest in it. The party filing the suit, in this case the land owner (you), has the burden of proving that a taking occurred. This means a collection of evidence will need to be done gathering documents proving your ownership and the value of the property. The statute of limitations on an inverse-condemnation action is four (4) years although the time frame governing the statute of limitations may turn contested when certain facts are in dispute. The statute of limitations begins to run when you, as the property owner, obtained knowledge of the harm to your property that the government ensued. The trial judge is responsible for determining all the legal and factual issues in these types of cases. The judge will rule on everything except what is an appropriate amount of damages.
Florida law requires that if you win in an inverse condemnation suit that full compensation be paid to you. The amount of damages will be determined by figuring up the value of the property at the time the taking occurred (not when the final judgment is ordered by the judge) and any special damages that occurred from the taking of the property. Though the damage has already been done it is possible to get a small piece of what you lost back.
Effective representation in inverse condemnation claims require a high degree of legal knowledge and understanding. If you believe you have a claim, please contact Andrew J. Pascale today to help you determine your legal rights.
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