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The Toledo Blade is reporting that local property owners have filed a federal lawsuit against Henry County, the Henry County Commissions, and a corporate unit of Campbell Soup Company, alleging that the use of eminent domain to take their properties violates their rights under state and federal law. The plaintiffs in the suit are Kyle, Todd, and Paula Rettig, owners of property that sits across the Maumee River from the Campbell plant.
The Rettigs hope to win an injunction stopping eminent domain proceedings that were approved late last year, monetary damages exceeding $500,000, and punitive damages against Campbell, the county, and the county commissions.
The lawsuit stems from a proposed bridge that would connect Route 110 to Riverview Drive over the Maumee. According to the plaintiffs, the three other replaced or renovated bridges in the area support the assertion that the new bridge would only benefit Campbell and that the proposed bridge would “serve no other purpose than to act as a dedicated driveway and river crossing for defendant Campbell.”
A valid eminent domain taking requires a public use. If, as the Rettigs allege, this bridge will serve no purpose but to allow easier truck access to and from the Campbell plant, the court may side with the plaintiffs. That said, courts historically have taken an expansive view of the public use requirement, and even a tangential benefit to the community at large could result in the court upholding an eminent domain action as valid.
Not only must an eminent domain taking require a public purpose, but the condemning authority must also provide the property owner with just compensation for the property taken. Because most eminent domain actions fulfill the public use requirement, just compensation is the main issue in dispute in most cases.
If you’re a landowner facing an eminent domain taking, speak to an attorney about your case before making any decisions about how to proceed. Initial offers are notoriously low, and you only get one chance to settle your case for an adequate amount. The representation of an experienced lawyer can go a long way to making sure that you actually get the full value of your property rather than the bargain price the government is trying to pay for it.
If you are a landowner whose property is subject to an eminent domain action, contact an attorney as soon as you can. The eminent domain attorneys of Sever Storey are dedicated to helping property owners get the full and fair value of their land and work hard to secure the best possible outcome in every case we handle. To schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney, call our office today at (888) 318-3761 or contact us online.
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