Few issues evoke such strong opposition as the taking of private land through eminent domain for a public use. Whether you are impacted by eminent domain in Minneapolis or other parts of the state, there are some things you should be aware of as you go through 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 and your rights as a property owner and hiring a Minnesota eminent domain attorney.
Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm that only represents property owners. Our central office is located in Minneapolis which allows us to ‘get into the field’ and shake hands with property owners more frequently than we do in other states. While most eminent domain attorneys in Minneapolis prefer to handle cases in the Twin Cities metro area, we maintain a successful eminent domain practice throughout the state with clients ranging from Owatonna to the Twin Cities, north into Brainerd and Moorhead and east to Duluth.
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. Also, Minnesota law requires the government or condemning authority to pay the property owner’s attorney’s fees and costs when certain criteria are met.
In the state of Minnesota, 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 Minnesota 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 Minnesota eminent domain process.
Learn more about the Minnesota Eminent Domain Process
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 Minnesota a B when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain?
Learn more about Minnesota Property Rights
If your instincts tell you that the offer from the government is low, then it probably is. However, determining just compensation often requires an attorney to identify damages and help guide you through the Minnesota eminent domain process. Additionally, other experts are needed such as an appraiser and maybe an engineer or planner to provide evidence and expert testimony on your behalf.
Most eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk for earning a fee. Property owners are generally only responsible for paying costs, with the primary cost being the appraiser who values the property. Because of the contingent fee structure, most eminent domain attorneys will conduct a free case evaluation for property owners prior to recommending representation.
Fortunately for Minnesota land owners, the government is required to pay your attorney’s fees and costs when certain criteria are met. For property owners pursuing a just compensation eminent domain claim, attorney’s fees are recoverable if the final judgment or award of damages is at least 40% more than the last written offer made by the condemning authority prior to the filing of the petition (Minn. § Stat 117.031).
If the final judgement or award is between 20%-39% above the last written offer made by the condemning authority prior to filing the petition, then the court may award attorney’s fees at their discretion (Minn. Stat § 117.031).
Attorney’s fees are also recoverable in the following situations: if the property owner is successful at pursuing an inverse condemnation case; if the action is abandoned by the condemning authority, or the condemning authority fails to pay damages to the property owner on time (Minn. Stat. § 117.031); if the court determines that the taking is not for public use (Minn. § Stat 117.031); and if the commissioners do not issue their report within 90 days of appointment, including possible extensions by the court. (Minn. Stat § 117.105(2))
If you’re affected by eminent domain, you should obtain a consultation so that you know and understand your rights before taking any action. Remember, the government is like any buyer, they will want to purchase your property as cheaply as possible, and their appraisers may neglect to consider damages that can lead to a larger amount of just compensation. Contact us for a free case evaluation.