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Eminent Domain & Valuation

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Services & Industries >> Eminent Domain & Valuation >> Representative Matters

Representative Matters

Real Estate Impacted by Condemnation

  • The Metropolitan Water District v. First Industrial Realty Trust (Riverside County Superior Court) - Represented the owner of an industrial property in a condemnation action brought by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  In order to build a major pipeline, the MWD sought a three-year temporary construction easement across the front third of the owner's property.  This temporary construction easement made it impossible for the property to be developed during the construction, and the client wanted the MWD to instead lease the entire property during construction.  When the MWD balked, we implemented a strategy of fighting the MWD's motion for prejudgment possession and immediately took depositions of the MWD's appraiser and engineer.  The depositions revealed several significant procedural and substantive defects in the MWD's effort to obtain prejudgment possession.  We utilized these in our opposition to the motion.  We then leveraged the opposition to obtain a negotiated resolution whereby the MWD paid for a three-year lease, paying an amount ten times the compensation the MWD had originally offered.
  • City of Laguna Woods v. Raintree Realty LLC, et al.  (Orange County Superior Court) – Represented S & P Company in an eminent domain case, City of Laguna Woods v. Raintree Realty LLC, et al.  After a five year court battle, an Orange County Superior Court jury awarded S & P Company, which manages the property for Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation, 1-1/2 times what the City offered to pay as “just compensation” at the outset - $6.43 million.
  • Val Verde Unified School District v. Perris Valley 50 SFR, LLC (Riverside County Superior Court) - Represented a development company prior to condemnation of a third of the company’s undeveloped 180-acre subdivision.  A multi-pronged approach, including litigating, lobbying, and negotiating, successfully persuaded the Val Verde Unified School District that just compensation for the property was many times higher than their original offer.  The matter settled, and the client received $48 million in lieu of condemnation.
  • Lake Elsinore Unified School District v. Centex Homes (Riverside County Superior Court) - Represented a homebuilding company facing condemnation of 14 acres for development of a new school. The District negotiated a contract to purchase the property for a few million dollars, allowed the contract to lapse, then filed a condemnation action. The action claimed soil problems lowered the value of the property to $3 million. The soils claim was successfully challenged, and the client agreed to a negotiated settlement of $8 million.
  • People of the State of California v. Imperial Terrace (Orange County Superior Court) - Represented the owner of a 40-unit apartment building condemned by Caltrans for a highway realignment. After trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the client. The client received $9.5 million for the property, nearly 75 percent more than the public agency’s initial offer.
  • Alameda Corridor-East Transportation Authority v. Hartlieb Trust (Los Angeles County Superior Court) - Represented the owner of a commercial property condemned for a grade-separation project.  In its condemnation action, the Alameda Corridor-East Transportation Authority sought limited interests in the property, but actual construction greatly exceeded those interests.  Subsequently filed a separate suit for inverse condemnation and tort causes of action.  The dispute ended with a negotiated settlement in which the Authority agreed to acquire the entire property for $3.55 million, seven times the initial offer for the partial acquisition.
  • Office REIT  (California) - Represented large office REIT in numerous condemnation actions by the California Department of Transportation involving widening of various highways and roadways in California.  Numerous issues litigated involve property valuation, severance damages, mitigation offsets, goodwill damages and the right to take.
  • Office REIT (Irvine, CA) - Represented large office REIT in condemnation action by the City of Irvine regarding a strip of landscape in front of an office building as part of a road widening project where a major dispute between the parties involved major severance damages. 
  • Home Owners (Riverside County Superior Court) - Representation (on a pro bono basis) of two owners of small, single family homes that were being partially taken for a freeway widening.  The condemnation was brought by a city, rather than Caltrans, but Caltrans retained most of the authority over the scope and timing of the acquisition.  The damaging effect of the partial acquisitions and the horrendous, looming construction impacts caused the homeowners to prefer that their entire homes be acquired and that they be relocated.  We learned that the project would actually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars less if the homes were acquired in their entirety (construction of a huge sound wall could be avoided).  But Caltrans refused to even consider complete acquisitions, citing its own bureaucratic inertia.  This prompted us to threaten (we never had to actually file) oppositions to the city's motion for prejudgment possession.   This, in turn, created risk for the city and Caltrans that the financing for the project, which depended on timely possession, could be delayed, and the entire project postponed.  This threat was sufficient to prompt the city to be more forceful with Caltrans, eventually breaking the log jam.  Those pro bono clients are now comfortably moved into new homes well away from the freeway.
  • Long Beach Redevelopment Agency v. Walker Trust (Los Angeles County Superior Court) -  Represented the owner of a commercial property being condemned for a redevelopment project. Dispute ended with a negotiated settlement of $3.5 million, more than double the Agency's original offer.
  • People ex rel. Department of Transportation v. Woodson (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 954 Represented owners of a mobile home park who faced an eminent domain action by Caltrans. The clients won a jury verdict, but the trial judge did not award attorneys' fees and other litigation expenses. Successfully represented the landowners on appeal. The Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision, remanded the case, and awarded full litigation expenses for both the trial court and appellate proceedings to the client.

Businesses Impacted by Condemnation

  • La Mirada Redevelopment Agency v. Byon (Los Angeles County Superior Court) - Represented the owners of two businesses — a preschool and a choir group — whose property was threatened with condemnation for a redevelopment project. Prior to the filing of the condemnation action, the dispute was resolved with a global settlement of $1.3 million, more than 175 percent of the Agency's initial offer.

Inverse Condemnation/Regulatory Takings

  • Winchester 700 LLC v. Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (Arbitration) - Represented the owner of a 454-acre property in Riverside County that the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) had deemed necessary for conservation as part of its Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.  Having determined it would acquire the property, the RCA caused the processing of the property owner's development entitlements to be frozen, but the RCA never made a specific offer to purchase.  Under threat of an inverse condemnation action, we negotiated a valuation/acquisition process with the RCA.  Under that process, we represented the property owner in an arbitration in which the RCA presented appraisal testimony of a value below $30 million.  After the completion of the arbitration, but before the award was issued, the parties reached a settlement by which the RCA paid more than $70 million.
  • Property Owner (California) - Represented beachfront property owner in major inverse condemnation trial against California Department of Transportation resulting from diversion of storm water drainage onto property.  Six-day trial resulted in very favorable decision in client's favor including award of substantial attorney's fees and expert fees.
  • Commercial Landowner (California) - Represented a major commercial landowner in a multi-million dollar inverse condemnation dispute with the California Department of Transportation regarding damage caused by major freeway expansion due to ensuing rising groundwater.
  • Property Owner - Represented property owner in negotiations/possible inverse condemnation action involving damage caused by stormwater drainage onto client's property from public drains. 

Leasehold and Business Valuations 

  • Makar Properties v. City of Huntington Beach (Arbitration) - Represented developer Makar Properties against the City of Huntington Beach in connection with a dispute regarding the value of Makar's Huntington Beach property. The valuation impacted the eventual park-in-lieu fee Makar would be required to pay. The parties were nearly $50 million apart in their valuation figures. After an arbitration, the three judge panel awarded a value exactly at Makar’s appraisal testimony. This equates to a $20 million savings in park fees for Makar.
  • Landlord (Orange County, CA) - Represented an Orange County landowner which leases the land to a business under a long-term lease. Under the lease, our client is entitled to a fair market value rent increase in 2010, the amount of which the parties disputed. The tenant argued a very low value due to the recession, resulting in a small increase. We obtained a high value appraisal and pursued the claim in arbitration. We achieved settlement under which the client receives a 300% rent increase, raising rents to $900,000 per year. In addition, while the lease called for the rent from the 2010 adjustment to be fixed for 10 years, under the settlement the rent will increase 4% each year, compounded annually.
  • Property Owner - Represented property owner in negotiations/possible inverse condemnation action involving damage caused by stormwater drainage onto client's property from public drains.