Vintage image of a bridge in New York City

Whether it be a retail mall taking over the land of private homes or a state utilities company taking away farmland, there are countless examples of eminent domain throughout history.

All too often, the government’s right to buy the private property and use it for a public project can cause big troubles for property owners. The government may overstep their rights, and landowners may not get the compensation they deserve.

Check out these 7 examples of eminent domain in America over the decades.

1. Penn Central Transportation v. New York City

Back in 1978, Penn Central Transportation submitted plans to build an office above Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission denied the plans on the grounds that the terminal is a landmark. Penn Central tried to sue them, claiming that they should get compensation because of eminent domain rules—but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the preservation commission.

2. Kohl v. United States

The first U.S. Supreme Court case relating to the federal government’s eminent domain rights occurred in 1875. In this case, the government took private land to build government facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio—without providing compensation to the landowners. The court ruled against the landowners and in favor of the government, confirming their right to take the land under eminent domain rights.

3. Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council

In 1992, the government enacted a law affecting a segment of private coastal land in South Carolina. Because the acquisition prevented the landowner from making any money off of the land, the Supreme Court ruled that the landowner was entitled to compensation from the government.

4. United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railroad Company

In 1896, Congress used eminent domain to take the Gettysburg Battlefield from the Gettysburg Railroad Company. The owners sued the government, but the Supreme Court ruled that the actions were legal, as long as the railroad company was paid just compensation for the land.

5. Kelo v. City of New London

Another famous case of eminent domain occurred in 2005, when the city of New London, Connecticut was granted the right to take private homes, then transfer the ownership to a private developer to develop a local economic project. In this controversial case, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that eminent domain allows the city to take away homes and give them to private parties, even if it is not for public benefit.

6. Berman v. Parker

In 1945, Congress allowed the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency to rebuild an area of housing under the power of eminent domain. An owner of a department store in the same housing district sued the agency, saying the taking of his land was a violation of his rights. The court unanimously ruled in favor of the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency.

7. Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff

In a 1984 eminent domain case in Hawaii, the courts ruled that Hawaii’s Land Reform Act was constitutional, allowing the state to take land from property owners and give it to property renters. This ruling was seen as a way to redistribute land to prevent private landowners from possessing the majority of the land.

Examples of Eminent Domain Today

Though many of these examples of eminent domain occurred decades ago, the government still exercises eminent domain today.

For example, the Supreme Court is currently scheduled to hear an appeal by a gas company seeking to use state land to build a natural gas pipeline. The Ohio Supreme Court is soon to hear a debate about giving the public access to ancient burial mounds. And the Alaska Department of Transportation is planning to exercise eminent domain to construct a road across an Alaska Native family’s land.

Get Help with Your Eminent Domain Case

Now that you’ve seen many examples of eminent domain, it’s time to make sure you get the fair treatment and compensation you deserve in your own case. Contact our landowner attorneys in your area to get assistance fighting for your rights. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to ensure justice is served.