The firm’s Condemnation & Eminent Domain Practice Group has multi-disciplinary experience in all aspects of entire and partial governmental takings of commercial, industrial, residential, special use properties and vacant land. The attorneys in this group draw upon the firm’s breadth of knowledge and experience in general real estate, land use, environmental and litigation matters, as particular issues may warrant. They are committed to assuring that a property owner whose property is taken for public use receives the just compensation to which the owner is entitled.
The firm has represented clients in takings and anticipated takings for various public purposes, including infrastructure, transit, open space, natural gas pipeline, and redevelopment initiatives. Our clients include both private property owners and taking entities. We zealously represent their interests, bringing substantial knowledge, skill and experience to the process of analyzing the numerous and often complex issues that a condemnation matter may present, as well as developing and implementing the necessary strategies to deal with these issues effectively. They include, but are by no means limited to:
- Challenges to takings based on substantive and procedural deficiencies by the governmental entity, such as the taking not being for a valid public use or purpose or the governmental entity having failed to conduct the jurisdictionally required pre-complaint bona fide negotiations;
- Valuation proceedings, consisting of hearings before commissioners, and/or jury or non-jury trials, to determine the amount of just compensation for the property taken, including the presentation of expert appraisal, planning, engineering and environmental testimony, as the particular case may warrant;
- Motion practice for the withdrawal of funds on deposit in court while the amount of just compensation is being contested; or with respect to various valuation and damages issues such as the proper date of valuation or the impact on value of the reasonable probability of a variance, subdivision or site plan approval; or to exclude expert testimony; or in connection with whether claimed damages are compensable;
- Allocation hearings when division of the lump sum of just compensation is in dispute, such as between landlord and tenant or between mortgagor and mortgagee;
- Environmental escrow hearings contesting the condemnor’s estimate of environmental remediation costs to be held on deposit in court, as the offer and amount of just compensation assume that the property taken is environmentally remediated;
- Revocation or modification of existing highway access coincidental with a taking;
- Statutory relocation claims and benefits for persons and businesses displaced by a taking;
- Settlement negotiations.
- We represented the owner of a 300 acre landfill of which 168 acres were taken in condemnation for the purpose of continuing the landfill. The condemnor’s offer of just compensation was approximately $2.8 million. After a 25-day hearing, we obtained for our client a settlement in the amount of $38 million.
- We successfully moved to exclude at trial the condemnor’s expert planning, engineering and appraisal testimony, which resulted in the settlement of just compensation in the amount of $8.5 million for our client’s property taken when the condemnor’s initial offer had been $2.381 million.
- After a fully contested commissioners hearing and on the eve of trial, we obtained settlement of just compensation for our client’s two acre property taken across from Newark Airport, in the amount of $6.6 million, when the condemnor’s original offer had been $3 million.
- After a six-day trial, we obtained a jury award of just compensation in the amount of $1.9 million, plus $400,000 in interest, for our clients, the owners of a two acre tract of land in Old Bridge taken for highway purposes, when the condemnor’s valuation position at trial had been $640,000.
- After a trial over parts of 11 days to determine the allocation of a $2.1 million portion of the lump sum of just compensation, plus interest, claimed by the mortgagees of a portion of the property taken, the court awarded $213,600 to the mortgagee-claimants, and awarded the balance of approximately $1.9 million to our client, the former owner.
- When a natural gas pipeline company sought to acquire easement interests within our client’s property for a pipeline, by condemnation if necessary, we prevailed upon the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expressly condition its issuance of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the pipeline project on the pipeline company’s addressing and mitigating, at the pipeline company’s sole cost, the adverse impacts that the proposed pipeline construction would have on the ongoing business operations on the property. Additionally, we were involved in the negotiations that resulted in the settlement of compensation for the easements in an amount that exceeded the pipeline company’s valuation position by approximately $600,000.
- We represented the owner of approximately 100 acres taken for open space preservation purposes. The property was bisected by two water courses and encumbered with wetlands, associated wetland buffers, flood hazard areas, and purported riparian zones. At the time of trial to determine the amount of just compensation, the condemnor’s valuation position was $5.075 million. We were able to settle the matter in the amount of $10 million.
- We represented the owner of property taken in a condemnation action during which the condemnor asserted claims for environmental remediation costs ranging as high as $2.5 million against the proceeds of just compensation on deposit in court. The amount of just compensation assumed the property was environmentally remediated. At the time of the Suydam hearing to determine the amount of the environmental escrow, the condemnor had reduced its estimate to approximately $660,000. We were able to settle the amount of the condemnor’s environmental claims against the owner for $375,000.