The process of forced relocation is very difficult for many businesses. The difference between relocation benefits and a lost goodwill claim can be very difficult to distinguish, and can, in many cases, feel arbitrary and confusing. However, there is a distinction under the law, and that distinction dictates how and if the business owner can recover from relocation. This isn’t the place to go into detail, but I can outline the main points here and then let you know how you can find out more about it.
First, relocation expenses are almost always handled outside any eminent domain action. A representative of the condemning agency will meet with the owner and discuss a fair and legal compensations, and if everything appears satisfactory to the government agency handling the case, the owner will receive a check,
Second, if there is a dispute over relocation expenses, the owner must typically go through an administrative appeal process to convince the agency to change its mind. This is when you really need an eminent domain attorney, as things start to get convoluted. If the issue isn’t solved the owner is free to sue, but that process is separate from any condemnation action.
Third, owners used to routinely capitalize relocation costs that the agency deemed non-compensable, folding those costs into a “loss of business goodwill” claim. Since California law has changed, however, this is no longer possible. (For more on that, contact one of the experienced southern California business attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP).
Fourth, goodwill claims come with their own set of technical, procedural requirements, and they’re far too easy to confuse and fumble with, resulting in the destruction of the entire claim. (It’s not unheard of for an owner to admit on the witness stand that they didn’t really try to relocate the business. In previous cases, owners weren’t too concerned about the testimony until discovering that this one answer precludes any recovery for lost business goodwill.)
In light of this, an eminent domain attorney should be hired early in this process, just to avoid any catastrophic consequences, especially seeing as they can occur even before a condemnation lawsuit is filed.
If you are in need of an experienced southern California eminent domain attorney, please get in touch with The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP as soon as possible.