Inverse condemnation is a term used to describe a legal situation in which the government takes and/or damages private property using the power of eminent domain, but fails to pay the compensation that is required (according to the 5th Amendment of the Constitution). The same Amendment provides government agencies with the power of eminent domain, or the "right to take." Additionally, the California Constitution provides a basis for the same proceedings reflecting the federal law.
The Basis of Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation:
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution reads, "...No person shall be...deprived of...property, without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
The California Constitution, Article I, Section 19 reads, "Private property may be taken or damaged for a public use and only when just compensation...for, the owner."
These two cited provisions are the constitutional basis for eminent domain and inverse condemnation. Government agencies can exercise their right to eminent domain in order to obtain private property needed in order to complete specific (qualified) public projects. Inverse condemnation claims can be made against government agencies; it is in fact the reverse of an eminent domain action. Inverse condemnation is when the private party sues the government agency for taking the private property for public use. It is an eminent domain proceeding that is initiated by the owner of the private property rather than the government agency or condemner. Common occurrences that could lead to a rightful inverse condemnation claim include: mud slides, debris flow, brush fires, emission of contaminants, broken water mains, backed up sewer lines, flooding, landslides, etc.
If you are a private property owner in southern California and you wish to pursue the possibilities represented by inverse condemnation, please get in touch with one of the experienced real estate attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP today. We can assist you in determining whether or not this type of claim could be beneficial in your situation.