California Eminent Domain


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Few issues evoke such strong opposition as the taking of private land through eminent domain for a public use. When it comes to eminent domain, the government is playing in their arena; they do this every day. They know what the rules are, they know how the rules affect them and they know how the rules affect property owners. If the government is taking your land, make sure that you become informed so that you know what you can and cannot do.

Your initial question might be, can I stop the process? In most cases, you won’t be able to prevent the government from acquiring your land, but you are entitled to just compensation under eminent domain law. Learn more about eminent domain generally and what you’re entitled to receive, or continue reading through our tabs and pages

to learn about the California eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a California eminent domain attorney.

Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm with experience handling cases in California and elsewhere around the country. We only represent property owners, never the condemning authority or government.

Did you know that most eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis? With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk of earning a fee. Continue browsing the tabs and additional pages for more information.

California Eminent Domain Process

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In the state of California, the eminent domain process can only be stopped if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public purpose or public necessity. If you have determined that the proposed taking does meet these requirements, then you should learn more about the California eminent domain process.
Remember, even if the government has the right to condemn your property, they cannot dictate the price they are willing to pay; compensation is determined by the highest and best use laws for your property. The following page contains detailed legal information and a flow chart on the California eminent domain process.

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California Property Rights

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The eminent domain abuse dialogue often centers on policy issues involving the right to take property for economic development and blight. Since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London in 2005, many states have taken measures to help curb eminent domain abuse. Some states were very successful at passing meaningful reform, and other states failed to pass any legislation at all. Most states fall in the middle by passing legislation that looks good on paper but does little to level the playing field between property owners and the government.
The Castle Coalition, a nationwide grassroots property activism project by the Institute for Justice, released a comprehensive report in 2006 that graded each state based on eminent domain legislative changes which expand and protect property rights.

Did you know that the Castle Coalition gave California a D- when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain? Continue reading to learn more.

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Hiring an Eminent Domain Attorney in California

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The most blatant form of eminent domain abuse occurs when the government or condemning authority makes a ‘low ball’ offer. This scenario invariably requires the property owner to hire an attorney to obtain just compensation. Fortunately, the vast majority of eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, meaning they charge a percentage of the additional money they obtain for the property owner. Also, California has passed legislation requiring the condemning authority to pay the property owner’s attorneys fees and costs in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.
Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. To determine if you have a case, make sure you consult with an eminent domain trial attorney who can effectively identify damages and select the necessary experts. Your attorney should also be able to interface with the condemning authority and be willing to take your case to trial if negotiations can not be reached.

Continue reading to learn more about attorney fee recovery for eminent domain cases in California.
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  • Attorney Dan Biersdorf weighs in on the MN “Buy the Farm” law with KSTP Channel 5 news. Watch the video or read the article.




    [Minneapolis, MN] – [March 4, 2014] — Attorney Dan Biersdorf has been awarded the honor of being part of the 2014 list of Super Lawyers in the sate of Minnesota. This honor is limited to no more than five percent of the attorneys in the state.

    Super Lawyers recognizes attorneys who have distinguished themselves in more than 70 practice areas. The selection process is rigorous and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. The lists are published annually in state and regional editions of Super Lawyers Magazines and in inserts and special advertising sections in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers.

    Dan Biersdorf is the lead attorney for Biersdorf & Associates. Dan attended the University Of Minnesota School Of Law where he received his Juris Doctor in 1976. After graduating and working as an assistant prosecutor for Hennepin County and a trial attorney for a corporate law firm for a number of years, Dan started Biersdorf & Associates specializing in eminent domain issues. Since the firm’s inception, Dan has focused on large eminent domain cases around the country that have redefined the law in favor of property owners.

    Super Lawyers was published in a small number of Law & Politics in 1991as a special section until it began to expand nationwide. Today, Super Lawyers Magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers. The selection process followed by Super Lawyers received a patent (U.S. Pat. No. 8,412,564) from The United States Patent and Trademark Office in April 2013, ensuring the credibility and prestige of becoming a selection for their annual list.

    Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm that was founded in 1988 on the principle that property owner’s Fifth Amendment rights must be asserted and upheld. Biersdorf & Associates solely represents property owners in their claims against condemning authorities.




  • Biersdorf & Associates recently reached a settlement agreement with the City of New Ulm for two clients impacted by the expansion of the Municipal Airport.  Read the article:  land-deal-for-airport-expansion-approved.


  • Lead attorney Dan Biersdorf will be presenting “Regulatory Takings: The Crossroads between Land Use Regulations and Eminent Domain” at the 17th Annual Oregon Land Use Seminar taking place on December12th- 13th at the Hilton Executive Towers in Portland. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that land use regulations (e.g. zoning ordinances) can go “too far” and cause a “taking” of property for which just compensation must be paid under the fifth amendment of the Constitution. These cases are known as “regulatory takings.” Less clear is how to establish how far is “too far.”

    Many of Oregon’s leading land use attorney’s will be presenting at the seminar, including E. Michael Connors, Hathaway Koback Connors LLP, presenting on Walmart vs the City of Hood River, and Michael Robinson, Seth King and Steven Pfeiffer from Perkins Cole LLP. Also presenting are representatives from the Cities of Medford, Pendleton, Bend and Tillamook facilitating a panel discussion “Land Use Issues for City Planning Directors”, and many more. Expect a few heated discussions with varied opinions from Oregon’s leading land use experts.


  • The Daily Star of Oneonta, NY covered the public hearing facilitated by Dan Biersdorf of Biersdorf & Associates and Jon Santemma of Farrell Fritz for property owners impacted by the Constitution Pipeline project. Also speaking at the meeting was Anne Marie Garti, one of organizers of the grassroots opposition group Stop the Pipeline.  Biersdorf stated in one quote, “You’re better off not taking the offer and using the eminent domain process to maximize your claim,” Biersdorf told The Daily Star. He pointed out that, under New York law, the landowners can also seek to recover all costs and fees associated with the eminent domain action.”

    Read the article, “Landowners, lawyers meet over pipeline”, or download a copy here.



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” …It is so refreshing to know a law office that does what it says it will do…you are truly an expert in this field and I am greatful…”

- Jerald Lang,Marshfield, WI

“[I was] very satisfied. [We] got more money than the DOT offered. [It was] great working with Biersdorf & Associates.”

- Roland Thomas,Lowman, NY

“Dan listened to me; some of the attorney’s I have spoken to around my state do all the talking, but do not hear what we are saying.”

- Theresa Cornell,Milton, WV

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