Home / Practice Areas / Inverse Condemnation

Chicago Attorneys Seek Compensation Through Inverse Condemnation

Protecting property rights when government action harms market value

Eminent domain protects property owners when the government seizes land for public use. But what happens when some government action short of an outright taking damages an owner’s property or causes its value to drop? In such cases, a landlord has recourse through a process known as inverse condemnation. For more than 20 years, Rieff Schramm Kanter & Guttman LLC has helped property owners in Chicago and vicinity protect their rights through eminent domain and inverse condemnation proceedings. Our attorneys have more than 140 years of combined legal experience, which we focus on your issues to deliver the best possible result.

Turning the tables on government through inverse condemnation

Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, property owners have the right to fair compensation for any property the government seizes. Inverse condemnation is a right under state law to demand compensation for property the government has taken without compensation or has damaged. Inverse condemnation is necessary and appropriate in a variety of scenarios:

  • Adjacent property seized through eminent domain — Here, the government develops adjacent property in such a way that it diminishes the value of your property. This might occur if the state built a freeway ramp next to your beer garden, creating noise and pollution and blocking out the sun, so that outdoor dining was impracticable.
  • Government condemns your property and then abandons its project — Sometimes, the government initiates a condemnation process but fails to follow through. The town council might get a new, much higher budget estimate, or an election might sweep into office a new regime opposed to the project. Meanwhile, property owners whose land has been condemned have lost business revenue and run up expenses in reliance on the condemnation. Those losses are compensable.
  • Severance damages — The government need not seize a whole tract of land and should try to take only as much as is necessary to accomplish its public purpose. So, what happens if the government takes half of your land? Your compensation is not necessarily in direct proportion to the amount the government seized. If taking half of your land causes the other half to drop further in value, you are due severance damages to compensate for the losses you incurred, in addition to the full value of the land taken. If the government does not offer to pay severance damages during the eminent domain proceedings, you may have to file an inverse condemnation action to compel compensation.

These are complex issues to adjudicate. When you choose legal counsel to defend your property rights, make sure the firm has a proven record of success in eminent domain and inverse condemnation actions.

Contact an established Chicago law firm for inverse condemnation claims

Defending your property rights through inverse condemnation takes knowledge, skill and experience. Rieff Schramm Kanter & Guttman LLC provides effective representation that delivers positive results. To schedule an appointment, call 331-310-0855 or contact our Chicago office online for a free consultation.