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« In The News . . . . Building a Better Redondo Garners Substantial Fee Award and Whistleblower Lawyers Contingency Agreement Was Not Enforced in Federal Case | Main | Private Attorney General Statute: $60,000 Fee Award To Winning Union Member Successfully Compelling Union To Conduct An Election Affirmed On Appeal »

October 30, 2010

Comments

Stacy D.

Many states with attorney fee recovery statutes related to additional damage claims in eminent domain cases have specific threshold amounts that must be beat in order for a property owner to recover their fees and costs. In Washington and Idaho, the final offer has to be 10% greater than the condemnor’s offer. In CA however, there is no threshold amount; instead the statute states that within 30 days of judgment and upon motion by the property owner, the court may award recovery for attorney’s fees if the court finds that the government’s final offer was unreasonable. (CA CIV PRO § 1250.410(b)). Unlike other states, California’s statute is not black and white and therefore largely left open for interpretation by the courts.

Another factor complicating attorney fee recovery in California is the third point addressed when determining if fees are to be paid: “(3) the good faith, care and accuracy in how the amount of the offer and amount of demand, respectively, are determined. (Acosta, supra, 178 Cal.App.4th at 773.)”. In eminent domain cases, there are many ‘gray areas’ in property evaluation. Because of this, an appraiser is going to have a certain degree of latitude with regards to how they look at a particular issue; it’s not that one way is right or one way is wrong. In many assignments there are two possible different ways to evaluate a property and these differences may be grounded in an interpretation of law. With this being said, a condemnor’s and condemnee’s appraisal can, in some cases, both be argued consistently with the third point listed above. Here is a good article on how appraisers contribute to eminent domain cases: https://www.condemnation-law.com/blog/articles/1813/eminent-domain-cases-selecting-an-appraiser/

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