Q. Is there any way to stop the government authority from taking my property?
A. Unfortunately, the law gives the government broad powers to take property, and
so long as the property is being taken for a necessary public use, you cannot stop
the government from taking it.
Q. What is the government authority required to pay me for my property?
A. The United States and Ohio Constitutions require that the government pay you “just
compensation” for your property. The Ohio courts have stated this means the government
must pay you the “fair market value” of the property it takes. In addition, if your
remaining property has decreased in value as a result of the the government authority
project and take, then the government authority must also pay you the amount by which
your property value has decreased.
Q. What does “fair market value” mean?
A. ‘Fair Market Value’ is the amount a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for
the property on the open market, with neither buyer or seller acting under duress.
What this means is that the government authority must pay you what you would expect
to receive if you were to put your property up for sale on the open market. The
problem, however, is that you are not a willing seller, and this is not a sale on
the open market. Appraisers or other professionals must therefore give an opinion
as to the compensation you are due.
Q. How does the government authority determine what to offer for my property?
A. The process can differ based on the size and complication of the take involved.
Generally, the government authority will have an appraiser review the property and
perform an appraisal which is then reviewed by the government authority and either
approved, disapproved, or further information is requested. The process continues
until the appraisal is approved.
Q. If I decide to have a jury determine how much I should be paid for my land, what
happens to the money the government authority offered me for my land?
A. the government authority, when it files the petition to appropriate your land,
must deposit with the Court the amount of compensation it determined pursuant to
its appraisal that you are due. You are then free to immediately withdraw that money
from the Court without jeopardizing your right to have a jury determine that the
government authority owes you additional funds.
Q. What if I do not agree with the amount offered for my property?
A. This is not uncommon. Appraisers can often disagree, and in many cases disagree
substantially, over the amount of compensation a property owner is due. For this
reason, you can, and we recommend you do, obtain your own appraisal to determine
if you should be paid a higher value for our property. Where you and the government
cannot agree on how much you should be paid, you have the right to have a jury of
your fellow county residents decide how much you should be paid for your land. Unlike
most civil cases, there is no burden of proof in an eminent domain case. The jury
basically sits as an assessing body to determine what compensation is due.
Q. Should I get a lawyer to assist me in dealing with the government authority?
A. We believe that the biggest mistake people make in dealing with the government
authority is failing to get a lawyer to help them understand their rights, and to
assist them in reviewing the government authority’s offer. The government authority
has experienced appraisers, engineers, lawyers, and other professionals to assist
it, and we believe a property owner is at a severe disadvantage in trying to deal
with the government authority and the professionals it has at its disposal by themselves
Q. But aren’t lawyers expensive?
A. It depends on what lawyer you hire, and under what type of fee arrangement. We
work on a contingent fee basis, meaning that our fees are based entirely upon the
amount which we obtain for you. If we are retained to negotiate with the government
authority, and are able to negotiate a settlement without proceeding to litigation,
our fees are 10% of the total amount settled for. If the case proceeds to litigation,
our fees are 20% of the total amount received, either through settlement or as a
verdict through trial. The property owner is also responsible for all out-of-pocket
expenses, such as appraisals, expert witness fees, etc.
Q. What common mistakes do you see property owners make in dealing with the government
A. The biggest and most frequent mistake we see is that property owners try to determine
what they should be paid based on what their neighbors and other property owners
are being offered by the government authority. The problem with such an approach
is that each property is different, and the effect of the government authority project