Eminent Domain and Government Takings

Ethan Vessels has handled eminent domain actions in both Ohio and West Virginia. “Eminent domain” refers to the governmental taking of property—usually real estate. The government can, and often does, take private property for public use. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees our right to receive fair compensation for our property.

The first question: Does the government have a sufficient “public necessity” to take the property? If not, the government should not be taking the property.

The second question: Will the government voluntarily pay the fair value? Will the government also pay the fair value for the damage to the property left behind? Often not.

Landowners have a right to have a jury determine the fair compensation. This requires a trial lawyer (not just a paper-handler) with experience in eminent domain actions.

In 2008, Ethan Vessels (with co-counsel) successfully tried an eminent domain case in Washington County, Ohio—a result of the Ohio Route 7 road-widening project. The jury returned a verdict for $389,000—more than doubling the state’s final offer. (This is believed to be the only case that went to trial regarding the Route 7 widening project.)

The eminent domain process in Ohio is complicated. If you are threatened with a government taking of your land, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Success-Based Fees

As with most of our litigation efforts, we prefer to share the risk with our clients and reap the rewards based on our success. In most cases, we will take a fee based on the amounts recovered beyond the government’s initial offer. Call or contact us for more information.