Condemnation, or eminent domain, is the power of the State to take private property for public use. In Texas, this power has been legislatively delegated to counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions and even to some private entities for public use projects.
A condemnation case represents the property owner’s one and only opportunity to recover compensation for the taking of his or her property through eminent domain, including impacts of the taking on the market value of the property remaining after the taking.
The condemnation attorneys at McFarland PLLC have extensive experience at every stage of condemnation matters, from pre-condemnation planning, negotiations, special commissioners’ hearings, and, when necessary, jury trials.
We work with appraisers, engineers, land planners, and other professionals to first assess the market value of a property and the impacts of the project and then craft the compensation argument that will put the landowner in the best position possible for the best possible outcome. This attention to detail combined with our legal acumen, work ethic, and commitment to fight for our clients’ interests are some of the reasons we’re known for adding value to each and every condemnation case we handle.
There are generally two kinds of condemnation cases: statutory cases and inverse cases. In a statutory condemnation case, the condemning authority files its petition to acquire a described interest in land for a stated public use. These proceedings are controlled at the administrative level by the Texas Property Code.
An inverse case is filed by the property owner in response to governmental action that effects a taking or damaging of private property rights without a formal exercise of the power of eminent domain through a statutory case or any payment of compensation. Unlike statutory cases, the government’s liability is not established and, in many cases, can expect to be contested.
In both statutory and inverse cases, the main issue will be the compensation to which the property owner is entitled for the taking or damaging of its property.
The planning for public infrastructure projects requiring the taking of private property begins years before the owner’s property is ever condemned. Our attorneys have worked with governmental agencies to seek modifications of public projects to eliminate potential negative impacts before any acquisition. We consult with property owners on how to proceed when property is under the shadow of an anticipated taking and monitor significant developments in projects as they proceed from the planning and design stages to right of way acquisition.
When the government and a property owner cannot agree on the amount of compensation owed, the court will appoint disinterested landowners in the county as special commissioners to determine the market value. We assist landowners with all aspects of these hearings.
A Thorough Analysis of Each Claim Is Key
For those cases that proceed to a judicial case, there are a number of opportunities for the parties to gain a better understanding of the market facts and, thus, the merits of their positions. The cross-examination in the commissioners’ hearing is without the benefit of discovery.
Full discovery allows for a more vigorous examination of the appraisal opinions that form the basis of the parties’ positions. As the facts that support or cut against the property owner’s position are established, the condemnation attorney should have a good picture of what the case is “worth” and, thus, what an acceptable outcome looks like.
Our Trial Skills Truly Benefit Clients
Our lawyers’ extensive experience in trying condemnation cases across the state of Texas is one of the most important contributions we bring to the representation of property owners in condemnation cases.
To properly evaluate a case, the condemnation attorney needs to understand how a trial court, jury, and, potentially, appellate court will perceive the property owner’s case, whether in terms of the admissibility or persuasiveness of its evidence or the compensability of the damages claimed. Through handling numerous trials and appeals of these issues, we have gained the insight and experience to shepherd our clients through these issues, maximizing their recovery in every stage of the condemnation process.
Learn More or Request Updates
To learn more or to discuss your case with an experienced condemnation lawyer, call McFarland PLLC at 713-325-9700.
We monitor several projects on an ongoing basis for clients and property owners. If there is a project on which you would like to be updated, please contact us by email to receive updates.