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Hiring a Wisconsin Condemnation Attorney

As you are likely aware, taking matters into your own hands when it comes to condemnation is highly discouraged, and could result in a scenario where you do not receive just compensation. So it is smart to consult a Wisconsin condemnation attorney for assistance. For instance, you could end up ruining a good claim by attempting to negotiate with the condemning authority prior to consulting with an eminent domain attorney, or you might settle for much less than what you deserve. Please read Why Act Now in our Resource Center to learn more about why you should hire a Wisconsin condemnation attorney early in the process.

Did you know that in the state of Wisconsin, attorney’s fees may be paid for and costs might be reimbursed to the property owner? Continue reading to learn more about this statute.

Attorney Fee Recovery Statutes in Wisconsin

Attorney’s fees and costs may be awarded if the final award is at least $700 and 15% higher than the final offer.  Attorney fees can be recovered in eminent domain proceedings for a number of reasons:

  1. The condemnor abandons action
  2. The condemnor does not have right to condemn
  3. Owner is successful in pursuing an inverse condemnation claim
  4. The award of the condemnation commission exceeds the jurisdictional offer or the highest written offer prior to the jurisdictional offer by at least $700 and at least 15% and neither party appeals the award to the circuit court;
  5. The jury verdict as approved by the court exceeds the jurisdictional offer or the highest written offer prior to the jurisdictional offer by at least $700 and at least 15%;
  6. The owner appeals an award of the condemnation commission which exceeds the jurisdictional offer or the highest written offer prior to the jurisdictional offer by at least $700 and at least 15%, if the jury verdict as approved by the court exceeds the award of the condemnation commission by at least $700 and at least 15%;
  7. The government appeals the award of the condemnation commission, if the jury verdict as approved by the court exceeds the jurisdictional offer or the highest written offer prior to the jurisdictional offer by at least $700 and at least 15%;
  8. The owner appeals an award of the condemnation commission which does not exceed the jurisdictional offer or the highest written offer prior to the jurisdictional offer by 15%, if the jury verdict as approved by the court exceeds the jurisdictional offer or the highest written offer prior to the jurisdictional offer by at least $700 and at least 15%; Wis. Stat. § 32.28.

Opinion

Wisconsin Courts have consistently interpreted their attorney fee recovery statute liberally in favor of property owners.  A Wisconsin appellate court has held:

The legislative intent in drafting their attorney fee recovery statute was (1.) to discourage the condemnor from making inequitably low jurisdictional offers, and (2) to force the condemnor to indemnify the condemnee for attorney’s fee incurred by an appeal. Standard Theatres, Inc. v. Department of Transportation, 118 Wis.2d 730, 741, 349 N.W.2d 661, 668 (1984).  In allowing condemnee to recover litigation expenses, the legislator sought to provide just compensation by ensuring that part of the award would not have to be used to pay for litigation expenses.  Green Bay Redevelopment Authority v. Bee Frank, Inc, 120 Wis.2d 402, 412, 355 N.W.2d 240, 245 (1984).

Wisconsin courts not only liberally construe the statue on behalf of property owners, they also take into consideration the statute’s purpose, which is to make a property owner ‘whole’ by compensating the owner for the value of the land taken and for attorneys fees incurred in pursuing the land owners constitutional right for just compensation.  Standard Theatres, 349 N.W.2d at 670.

If you have questions regarding hiring a Wisconsin condemnation attorney, or questions regarding fees and costs, please call us at 866-339-7242.

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