In addition to the data on the gap between condemnors’ offers and eminent domain trial results that we discussed in our earlier blog of October 13, 2007, we just dug up additional data on the deficiencies of condemnors’ offers to property owners whose land is being taken by eminent domain in California. The subject of revising California law governing fee shifting in eminent domain cases (see Calif. Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 1250.410 (b)) was considered but not carried through to completion, by the California Law Revision Commission in 1999, with results that pretty much replicate those in the other studies. The Commission relied on data collected by the Institute for Legislative Practice that examined the statistics on offers and verdicts in eminent domain cases tried in California between 1985 and 1999, using a sample of 237 cases, representing 20% of all contested eminent domain cases tried during that period of time. California Law Revision Commssion, First Supplement to Memorandum 99-66, Nov. 18, 1999.
The conclusion (in the Commission’s words): “The average jury verdict is about 41% higher than the plaintiff’s [condemnor’s] offer and the average bench verdict is about 33% above the plaintiff’s offer. [The 41% figure is identical to that found in the Utah study.]”