What if the government or a utility company takes or damages my property without telling me?

Eminent domain and constitutional takings law is important not only when the government comes to take your property for a project using eminent domain proceedings. The government may also be required to compensate you when it takes or damages your property without using its power of eminent domain. An inverse condemnation lawsuit is one in which the property owner files a claim against the government or utility company seeking compensation for a taking of property.

This situation arises when the government or utility company fails to follow eminent domain procedure before taking your property. For example, where a telephone company, in a rush to install lines before a competitor gets there, will go ahead and install their lines on your property before getting an easement. This taking would amount to a trespass if a private citizen did it, but because it is an entity with the power of eminent domain, it is an inverse condemnation.

Another type of taking occurs when a government agency or utility company negligently damages your property or creates a nuisance such as excessive noise, smoke, or vibrations. You can also sue that entity for inverse condemnation for the property damage.

Other inverse condemnation claims can be filed where a government agency enacts or amends regulations (including zoning regulations) that restrict your ability to use your property. If a regulation, ordinance, or law restricts the use of your property so significantly that it effectively takes your property or if the regulations significantly impair the use of the property, then you have the right to pursue an inverse condemnation claim against the government.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact the experienced eminent domain lawyers at Meyer & Bardill.