Common Questions and Answers

Eminent domain and condemnation are names for the same thing. Eminent domain is the power of a governmental entity or an authorized utility to take private property for a public purpose. Article X, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution provides that no private property shall be taken except for a public purpose and with full compensation therefor paid to each owner. The goal of eminent domain in Florida is for condemning authorities to make the property owner whole within defined parameters. The cost of attorneys, appraisers, accountants, engineers, land planners and other professionals reasonably necessary to assist owners in securing full compensation are paid by the condemning authorities in addition to the compensation due to property owners for their property that has been taken or damaged. Harold Lassman or Raymer Maguire would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you via telephone or an in-person consultation.

Please contact us at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or at (888) 216-6870 to schedule a free prospective client-attorney consultation.

The estimated time for a condemning authority to begin the eminent domain process will vary from road project to road project.

Every infrastructure construction project has three phases: (1) planning and design which on average take six years; (2) right of way acquisition which on average takes two years; and (3) project construction which on average takes two years. The timing of the second of these three phases is what determines when the condemnation will occur for the project affecting your property. Acquisition is dependent on many factors, including when funding for the project is available.

If you have questions about the timing of a project that affects your property, please contact our office manager by email at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or by telephone toll free (888) 216-6870. We will be happy to schedule a free prospective client-attorney consultation.

You have the right to be paid full compensation for property taken from you and for certain negative impacts to the value of your remaining property which are called severance damages. To assist your appraiser in ensuring that all negative impacts to your property are properly taken into account, you have the right to have an experienced site analyst carefully evaluate the condemning authority’s construction plans and their effect on your remaining property.
If a business is located on the affected property, you may also have a business damages claim. Business damage claims can include lost profits and lost goodwill suffered by an operating business as a result of a government taking of private property. A claim for damages to trade fixtures can also often be made as part of a business damages claim.

The condemning authority will have skilled acquisition agents, appraisers and attorneys working for it. Florida law does not require the condemning authority to inform you of the risks associated with being the target of an eminent domain proceeding.
The condemning authority does not focus on analyzing the project’s negative impact to your remaining property or business. Those impacts can be serious, permanent, and not apparent until the project is complete.
Some examples of those negative impacts include unfavorable drainage consequences, driveway connection problems and detrimental grade changes.
Without an experienced eminent domain team working on your behalf, you may not be paid fairly for the property acquired and the condemning authority may never pay for, or even address, negative impacts to the remainder of the property. Harold Lassman or Raymer Maguire would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about your claim via telephone or in-person. Please contact us at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or at (888) 216-6870 to schedule a free prospective client-attorney consultation.

We recommend the engagement of our firm early in the process. Our legal team will closely monitor the condemning authority’s activities and will keep you fully informed as those activities occur and affect your property. In addition, there are beneficial pre-condemnation planning steps that can be taken as or even before the condemning authority’s initiates condemnation activities that can affect your reward.
Maguire Lassman’s pre-condemnation planning strategies include:

  • Controlling communications initiated by the condemning authority who may improperly use such communications;
  • Reminding property owners not to seek a lower assessment of their property by the local tax assessor.
  • Applying for and securing rezoning, plat approval or a building permit, if possible, when the condemning authority might contend that these types of development authorizations would not be obtainable;
  • Reminding property or business owners not to list their assets for sale at a price substantially less than its real value;
  • Including adequate language in any option or sales agreement to ensure the intent of the seller and buyer regarding treatment of condemnation proceeds is properly dealt with;
  • Correcting the unintentional or unnecessary holding of contiguous parcels in different related entities; and
  • Negotiating appropriate “condemnation clauses” in leases and addressing other leasing issues.

If you have questions about pre-condemnation planning strategies, please contact our Office Manager by email at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or by telephone toll free (888) 216-6870. We will be happy to schedule a free prospective attorney-client consultation.

Maguire Lassman, P.A. limits its practice solely to eminent domain – condemnation. It is one of only a few law firms in Central Florida and the Jacksonville area to do so.
The attorneys of Maguire Lassman, P.A. have handled over 1,000 eminent domain – condemnation cases in Central Florida and the Jacksonville area.

Under Florida law, the condemning authority is responsible for the payment of a property owner’s attorney fees. The court determines the amount of attorney fees and Maguire Lassman, P.A. will accept the court’s determination as full payment for representing you. You will not receive a bill and will not be responsible for paying Maguire Lassman, P.A. for its legal services. Likewise, you will not be responsible for payment of court approved expert’s fees and costs as provided for by Florida law.
The policy of Maguire Lassman, P.A. is based on Florida law which recognizes that a property owner’s compensation should not be diminished as a result of the property owner having to pay attorneys’ fees, experts’ fees and costs.

Florida law does not obligate the condemning authority to inform the property owners of the risk associated with being the target of condemnation, and the condemning authority rarely attempts to do so.
If you have been provided information by a condemning authority, it may not be accurate. Maguire Lassman, P.A.’s team of experts is ready, willing and able to assist you and determine whether or not the information you receive is accurate and sufficient upon which to base final access, drainage, grade and compensation decisions. Harold Lassman or Raymer Maguire would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you via telephone or an in-person consultation about your claim. Please contact us at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or at (888) 216-6870 to schedule a free prospective client-attorney consultation.

Sometimes it is possible to prevent a taking of property by a condemning authority where it can be shown that the taking does not meet the criteria of being for a “public purpose” or where fraud or gross abuse of discretion are exercised in the process; but, those occasions are rare. When preventing a condemnation is not possible or not wanted by a property owner, the best thing to do is to secure the maximum compensation entitled to you under Florida law. Maguire Lassman, P.A. is ready to assist you in reaching a result satisfactory to you.

In Florida eminent domain compensation consists of:
A. The value of the property physically taken, including: (1) land; (2) buildings; (3) landscaping; (4) driveway/pavement improvements; (5) drainage facilities taken; (6) fixtures; (7) trade fixtures (8) monument signage; and, (9) any other improvements.
B. The lost value to remaining property that results from the condemning authority’s project negatively impacting: (1) access; (2) yard amenities; (3) drainage from the remaining property; (4) drainage onto the remaining property; (5) parking; (6) shape of the remaining property; (7) depth of the remaining property; (8) development/capacity of the remaining property; (9) orientation of remaining buildings relative to surrounding properties and roadways; (10) required setbacks; (11) required landscape buffers; (12) visibility; (13) grades and slopes; and (14) septic and sewage systems.
C. Business damages when the following criteria are met: (1) when an established business has been in place for at least 5 years; (2) where there is a partial, as opposed to a whole, taking of its real property at the business location affected; (3) where the damage is the direct result of use of land physically taken and part of the business operation is located on what remains; (4) where the taking is for right-of way and is by a Florida public entity (e.g. the Florida Department of Transportation, a county or city); and (5) where certain procedural requirements are timely met in terms of preparing and submitting the business damage claim and supportive information.
D. Moving and relocation expenses in certain circumstances, usually when the taking is by a state agency (e.g. Florida Department of Transportation).
E. Attorneys’ fees and costs. Please see Question No. 7 above regarding payment of attorneys’ fees in Florida eminent domain cases.
F. Interest on any compensation over and above the good faith deposit.
If you have any questions about what constitutes proper compensation arising out of an eminent domain proceeding, please contact our office manager by email at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or by telephone toll free (888) 216-6870. We will be happy to schedule a free prospective client-attorney consultation.

It depends. If all issues are settled before the condemning authority files an eminent domain lawsuit, the proceeds will be distributed shortly thereafter. Maguire Lassman, P.A. is ready to assist you in reaching a settlement with the condemning authority that will maximize your reward and protect you from unforeseen future negative impacts.
If you do not settle your claim before suit is filed, an order of taking hearing usually occurs within six to twelve weeks of the lawsuit being filed. At the order of taking hearing, the judge will provide as a condition to the entry of an order of taking that within 20 days the condemning authority must deposit in the court registry its estimate of full compensation to the property owner (not including business damages, if applicable). This estimate is usually equal to the amount of money the property owner has been initially offered by the condemning authority but does not include any estimate of business damages.
At the order of taking hearing, Maguire Lassman, P.A. normally requests that the judge allow for the withdrawal of the initially deposited funds for the property owner’s benefit once those funds are deposited with the court. Withdrawing this money does not waive any rights to seek additional compensation. Where applicable, these funds may be owed to mortgage holders or need to be used to satisfy any judgments or liens on the property.
Securing the use of funds deposited by the condemning authority does not jeopardize the property owner’s right to seek and receive additional compensation at trial. If retained, Maguire Lassman, P.A. will seek the maximum additional funds owed you through the litigation process. This process will end either with a subsequent settlement or a judgment after a jury trial. It is difficult to accurately estimate how long this process will take.
Harold Lassman or Raymer Maguire would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you via telephone or in-person consultation about payment of compensation on your claim. Please contact us at teri@maguire-eminentdomain.com or at (888) 216-6870 to schedule a free prospective client-attorney consultation.

We find that the majority of property owners believe settlement is a prudent course of action to achieve full compensation. The vast bulk of clients of Maguire Lassman resolve their claims with settlements. Where an acceptable settlement is not achievable, Maguire Lassman, P.A.’s experienced lawyers are ready, willing and able to take eminent domain matters to trial.

You do not have to be present in court if you do not wish to attend. We encourage our clients to be present. Regardless of whether or not you are present, Maguire Lassman, P.A. will diligently represent you at each step of the proceedings.

These questions and answers are those commonly posed to Maguire Lassman, P.A. regarding eminent domain – condemnation. We hope you find them helpful. Even if these questions and answers seem to provide you with all of the information you believe you need to make informed decisions, we encourage you to consult with Maguire Lassman, P.A. for a thorough evaluation of your particular claim. Every claim should be specifically reviewed with regard to the facts, circumstances and issues particular to that claim.
Please note that these questions and answers are not intended to, and do not, constitute legal opinions or the giving of legal advice. You should not rely upon this information without direct consultation with Maguire Lassman, P.A. as to the details of your claim.
Nothing contained herein shall be deemed to create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Maguire Lassman, P.A. For such a relationship to exist, Maguire Lassman, P.A. must be retained by you and a written agreement entered into establishing our representation of you.

For answers to specific questions you may have pertaining to your claim, please contact:
Raymer F. Maguire, III, Esquire
Toll free at (888) 216-6870 or by email at raymer@maguire-eminentdomain.com
Harold A. Lassman, Esquire
Toll free at (888) 216-6870 or by email at lassman@maguire-eminentdomain.com