Eminent Domain Lawyers – Practice Areas
The firm of Palmieri, Hennessey & Leifer is an eminent domain law group based out of Irvine, California. Our lawyers represent business and property owners in eminent domain proceedings and other land use or valuation matters throughout California. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing the interests of property and business owners, and defending the rights of our clients against government intrusion and regulatory overreach. We know the importance of property and business interests to your livelihood and your future, and it is our mission to protect both.
Our core practice areas include:
“Eminent domain” is a right listed under both the constitution of the state of California and the federal constitution, giving federal, state and local governments the authority to acquire private property for a public purpose. It is also sometimes referred to as the “takings” power. In California, the right to exercise eminent domain authority is governed by the eminent domain law. An example of the use of “eminent domain authority” would be if the state government forced the sale of private land for a highway right of way. The exercise of eminent domain powers often causes problems for California property owners. By the eminent domain law, owners can only be forced to sell their property for a legitimate public purpose and must receive “just compensation” in return. In practice, governmental authorities abuse their eminent domain powers by taking property for improper reasons, failing to follow required processes and trying to pay landowners a fraction of the market value of their properties. The government may even refuse to pay compensation by claiming property was taken under the doctrine of “police power,” which permits the taking or destruction of property without compensation in the interest of public health and safety, such as clearing trees from private property to stop the spread of a wildfire. Our Eminent Domain Law Group in Irvine, California, represents California property and business owners in matters involving governmental abuses of the eminent domain power, helping our clients defend and enforce their constitutional and statutory rights.
In eminent domain matters, the term “condemnation” refers to the court-administered process through which property can be taken for a public purpose. In California, the eminent domain law prescribes extensive procedures government entities must follow when they want to acquire private property or business interests through eminent domain. The procedures help ensure governmental authorities only take property or businesses for appropriate purposes and with just compensation. We routinely represent property and business owners in these court proceedings and in negotiations with government entities that have attempted to acquire our clients’ property or businesses for lowball amounts. Our track record of success in these proceedings is reflected in the significant increases in compensation offers we’ve achieved for our clients. Our lawyers also represent clients in matters regarding “inverse condemnation” laws. There are instances when a government entity effectively “takes” private property for public use without following the condemnation procedure above and without paying just compensation. For example, a local government might pass a regulation that accomplishes its public purpose by eliminating all viable uses of a parcel of private property. In these cases, California property owners have the right to institute an “inverse condemnation” action in court to force the government to acquire that property and pay just compensation.
Our lawyers extend their practice to a wide range of disputes over the value of a property. Eminent domain law cases routinely involve disputes of this nature, such as when parties disagree about the amount of just compensation due or the diminution in value of a property affected by a government regulation. Disagreements over property valuation can also arise in noneminent domain contexts. For example, our lawyers commonly represent clients in disputes over the value of property in connection with the sale of a business, the partition of marital or family property, and the termination or buyout of a commercial lease. In these types of matters, our clients require experienced counsel who understand the appropriate methodologies for establishing the value of a property for various uses. We often work with valuation professionals, engineers and other professionals to conduct detailed valuations on our clients’ behalf.
Lease Renewal Valuation
When the term of a lease expires or when the circumstances of the business conducted on leased premises change, parties often seek to renegotiate lease prices based on the value of the leased property. At the law firm of Palmieri, Hennessey & Leifer, LLP, our lawyers frequently represent parties to commercial leases, working to establish an appropriate valuation for the premises for purposes of renewing or renegotiating the lease. This can include counseling business owners faced with large rate increases because of the growth of their business, as well as property owners whose land has appreciated substantially over the course of a long-term lease. As in property valuation disputes, our lawyers often work with financial and design professionals in making our clients’ case for a valuation.
The Land Use/California Environmental Quality Act
Land values and land use are inextricably intertwined. Federal, state and local regulations – particularly sweeping environmental statutes like the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) – can impose significant limitations on what a property owner can and cannot do on a parcel of land. They also create risks for landowners not familiar with how those regulations work. Failing to comply with CEQA and other rules could cost a property owner millions of dollars in lost value or revenue due to interruption of a business. The lawyers at Palmieri, Hennessey & Leifer, LLP, represent individuals and enterprises in a wide variety of California land use issues. We have advised clients on complying with environmental regulations in the context of land development and have defended clients in regulatory enforcement actions by federal, state and local regulators seeking to limit their actions. CEQA often creates hurdles for the physical development of land in California requiring governmental approval. We help guide clients through the CEQA environmental review process so that their development projects do not experience unnecessary delays. We also defend clients in CEQA litigation seeking to stop land development from proceeding.
Business or general commercial litigation involves virtually every type of dispute that can arise in the business context, including breach of contract cases, partnership/joint venture disputes, class actions, business torts, breach of fiduciary duty allegations and shareholder issues. Successful commercial litigators need to be able to assess the merits of a dispute and scale either a prosecution or defense that fits the legal and business needs of the client. Efficiency, creativity and sound judgment are critical for intelligently positioning these disputes. While all cases must be litigated with an eye toward ultimately trying them, seasoned business and commercial litigators understand that at all times they must strive to achieve the best possible result at a reasonable cost.