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  • Inverse Condemnation Cause of Action

  • If damage is caused to privately owned land, buildings or improvements by a government land improvement or project, that government or government agency can be found liable for the damages to such privately owned property under Inverse Condemnation. For example, if a government flood control agency somehow alters the flow of a river or stream for the benefit of a segment of the public, and this project causes damage to privately owned land, the government can be held liable in inverse condemnation. In addition, if actions or projects by a government result in the "taking" of real property, an action in inverse condemnation may be maintained.

    Inverse condemnation is based upon Federal and State Constitutional provisions for "Eminent Domain", under which a government must compensate a private individual or corporation if they want to "take" private real estate. Our courts have developed the principle of Inverse Condemnation, which is "inverse" as being based upon first "taking" or damaging of privately owned land ­ and the compensation is paid after the taking or damaging by court judgment. Normal or traditional condemnation takes place when a government first compensates an individual for taking land, and then legally and physically takes possession of the land.

    The liability portion in Inverse Condemnation actions is tried by a judge, which is generally an advantage to the person bringing suit. The damages portion of this action is tried before a jury. Generally, the measure of damages in inverse condemnation is the loss of value in the real property, although some exceptions allow a measure of damages by the cost of repair.