The constitutions of the United States and the State of Ohio both contain provisions safeguarding ownership of private property, but both also allow the government to take property when needed for the public good. This is a process known as eminent domain.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that no person can “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The Ohio Constitution states that “private property shall ever be held inviolate” and that when any property is taken through eminent domain, “compensation shall be made to the owner.” Such compensation in Ohio is defined as the “fair market value” of the property being taken.
If you own property in Ohio and a state or local agency is seeking to acquire it to build or repair a road or use the property “for other public good,” you have the right to fair compensation and a just process. At Jett Law, LLC I have been helping clients in all matters of eminent domain. I offer aggressive representation and strategic solutions. Contact Jett Law, LLC, immediately. I can discuss your situation with you, inform you of your rights, and guide you through the whole legal process. I represent clients throughout the greater Cleveland area and Northeast Ohio.
The governmental acquisition of property — whether whole, in part, or just temporarily — is known as a “taking” after the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution. When an agency opts to use eminent domain to acquire, or take, property in Ohio, it must serve a notice to the owner. Following that, it must obtain a professional appraisal of the property and provide the owner, or trustee, with a summary of that appraisal. This first step is known as condemnation. The agency seeking the property is known as the condemnor.
If the property owner or other responsible party agrees to sell at the appraised value, the process unfolds in a straightforward manner, with the agency paying for the taking of the property. If the owner disputes the value or refuses to sell at any price, the state will then file a court proceeding to set up a public hearing. At the hearing, the agency must prove that the taking is for “public use.” Arguments about valuation from both the owner and condemnor will also be heard.
The hearing will thus determine if the acquisition is indeed for a bona fide public use and also seek to set a fair purchase price or valuation.
It is the duty of the state or local agency to prove that the taking of the property is for legitimate public use and not for some commercial enterprise or benefit to a subsequent property holder. However, a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling broadened the definition of public use to include any structure that would benefit the community, including malls, hotels, condos, and health clubs. Prior to the ruling, the governmental entity had to show uses such as:
Transportation projects, like roads, railroads, and bridges
Government buildings, such as post offices
Structures related to the water supply, like aquifers
Expansion of public and national parks
Preparation for war efforts and production of war materials
Inverse condemnation generally refers to the taking of private property by the government without using the eminent domain process. Inverse condemnation does not always mean the physical acquisition of the property itself. It can refer to the temporary taking or occupation of the property, even if sometimes by natural flooding. A government regulation that deprives the property of its economic use and value is also a potential inverse condemnation.
A property owner can file suit for damages from inverse condemnation, but the burden of proof shifts from the agency taking the property to the owner.
Facing the government in an eminent domain situation can be daunting, even frightening, if you’re not familiar with the process and with the legal protections afforded you. If you’re confronted with a condemnation proceeding, Jett Law LLC, is ready to guide you through the process and protect your best interests. Don't risk the outcome of your case by struggling through complicated legal processes alone. Call me today for a free consultation. For more than three decades, I have successfully represented clients in the greater Cleveland area as well as all of Northeast Ohio.