Topic: Eminent Domain
Questions that frequently arise are: What are the amount of the attorney’s fees? Who pays them? When are they payable? Attorney’s fees generally are not recoverable in an eminent domain action. There are two major exceptions. If the government does not make the property or business owner a reasonable settlement offer, but the property or business owner does make the government a reasonable offer, the property or business owner is entitled to recover attorney’s fees and expert witness fees.
What is reasonable is determined by the judge after the trial. There is no fixed formula. If the government offers the property owner $100,000 for the property and the property owner counteroffers the government $200,000 for the property, with the jury determining that the property is worth $200,000, the property owner would be awarded attorney’s fees. In the same case, if the jury awarded the property owner $100,000, the property owner would not be awarded attorney’s fees. What if the jury awarded $150,000? The result is uncertain.
Another major exception is the case of inverse condemnation. If the property or business owner prevails in an inverse condemnation case, the property or business owner recovers attorney’s fees. Attorneys charge clients for fees based on an hourly fee, a contingent fee, or a combination of the two. In the usual contingent fee arrangement, the attorney receives a percentage of the recovery above the amount which the government initially offered the property owner or business owner. If the government offers the property owner $1,000,000 initially and the judge or jury determines that the value of the property is $1,500,000, the attorney’s fee would be a percentage (usually 35 to 50) of the $500,000 recovery.
For more information on Eminent Domain or Real Estate Law, contact Barry A. Ross, Esq. at 949-727-0977; e-mail: email@example.com; or visit our website at: www.rossrealestatelaw.com. For a FREE download of California Homeowner Association Members Guide, go to my website at www.rossrealestatelaw.com.