Condemnation & Eminent Domain

The taking of private property for public use has both U.S. and state constitutional protections. These takings are governed by eminent domain law and are also generally referred to as condemnations. The Texas Property Code and Texas common or case law also govern the exercise of the power of eminent domain. Texas law also provides certain private, for-profit business entities with the power to take private land in eminent domain proceedings, especially for the installation and operation of oil and gas pipelines.

Many state and quasi-state agencies, municipalities, utility and hospital districts, and other government-related entities, along with private, for-profit companies who qualify can condemn and take private land for what is supposed to be adequate compensation. These takings have generally two phases – administrative and judicial. Experienced legal counsel is needed at both phases for the landowner to obtain adequate and lawful compensation.   Many condemnations involve partial takings from a single or whole property that creates additional problems for the landowner. Whitaker Chalk attorneys have extensive eminent domain experience in both the administrative and judicial phases of a private property taking.

Government Condemnations

Whitaker Chalk lawyers represent private landowners when municipalities and other governmental entities take private property for public uses.

Whitaker Chalk lawyers also represent municipalities and other governmental entities who condemn private property for public uses.

Whitaker Chalk lawyers represent appraisers, engineers, economists, and other professionals when asked to testify in condemnation proceedings.

Non-Government Condemnations

Whitaker Chalk lawyers represent private landowners when non-governmental condemnors take their private property.

These condemnations often involve takings of less than the entire subject property.

Less than entire subject property condemnations have special characteristics that require careful attention especially to what constitutes adequate compensation.

Partial property takings require carefully market value determinations including the damages to the remainder property caused by the partial condemnation.

Appraisers and appraisal reports are subject to legal, economic, and professional limitations that require careful, studied attention of the condemnation lawyer.

General Condemnation Issues

Permanent easements require careful reading for overbroad uses granted to the condemnor.

Permanent easements need to be negotiated with the condemnor prior to the condemnor filing with the condemnation court.

Most condemnations involve at least three kinds of takings – permanent easements, temporary workspace easements, and additional workspace easements. All three easements have unique characteristics and must be evaluated independently.

Appraisers should be carefully selected and engaged immediately upon landowner’s first notice of a pending condemnation.

Cost-benefit analysis is critical for landowners in condemnations because attorney’s fees and costs are not available under normal circumstances.