Minneapolis Eminent Domain Attorney Obtains Another Successful Jury Trial Verdict
Morphew Law Office recently obtained another successful Minneapolis jury trial verdict in an eminent domain case on behalf of its client as a result of the forced taking of her property by Hennepin County.
As was noted in our prior blog post, as part of its Normandale Boulevard Road Improvement Project, in 2015 Hennepin County acquired permanent and temporary easements from a number of property owners represented by Morphew Law Office. As part of that forced taking the client’s property, Hennepin County removed a large number of trees, natural vegetation and custom landscaping, which included a waterfall and pond. In addition to the loss of her trees, land and custom landscaping, the property owner had to put up with construction-related interference related to the noise, dust and vibration caused by the road construction for almost two years. At the end of the project, Hennepin County also changed the grade of the property and required the property owner to install a cedar fence as a replacement for the loss of the trees, including being responsible for the ongoing maintenance costs for that fence. In addition, Hennepin County did not repair or replace any of the custom landscaping features installed by the property owner.
Refusal to Negotiate by Hennepin County Required Three Years of Litigation
At the beginning of the eminent domain process, Hennepin County offered to replace some of the trees, flowers and bushes, but it was impossible to replace to them because of the size and natural beauty they provided. Hennepin County also refused to compensate the property owner for the decrease in value it caused to the property owner’s home due to the removal of the trees, vegetation, flowers and custom landscaping features. The property owner rejected that offer and retained Morphew Law Office to represent her in her fight for fair compensation. Due to Hennepin County’s refusal to engage in good faith settlement negotiations, the litigation over the property owners’ damages lasted more than three years.
Jury Trial Verdict
After three years of litigation, the property owners’ claim of damages finally went to a jury trial in November 2018. At that trial, Hennepin County argued that all of the trees, bushes, flowers and custom landscaping contributed virtually no value to property and because of that she was still only entitled to the replacement value for the items taken from her. At the taxpayers’ expense, Hennepin County incurred approximately $10,000 in expert witness costs to try to prove the property owner was only entitled to the replacement value of the items taken even though its own expert testified it was not possible to actually replace the items taken due to their size, maturity and beauty.
Despite these efforts by Hennepin County to deny the payment of just compensation to the property owner, at the conclusion of the trial the jury returned a verdict that was 70% higher than the amount initially offered by Hennepin County at the beginning of the case. As a result of this significant verdict, Hennepin County is now responsible for reimbursing the property owner for her reasonable litigation expenses and attorney’s fees.
Property owners faced with the forced taking of their property need an attorney experienced in this type of litigation. Many attorneys that do not work regularly in the area of eminent domain law do not have this experience and may be afraid to take these cases to trial. This may result in their clients receiving less than what they are entitled to receive for the forced taking of their property. An experienced eminent domain lawyer can make sure you receive just compensation for the forced taking of your property and make sure your interests are protected. If you are facing the taking of your property by the government for a public project contact real estate attorney Jon Morphew at Morphew Law today.