Category: Lowball Watch

Lowball Watch — Minnesota

The Winona Post of July 13, 2015 (Chris Rogers, Mn/DOT Settles With Winona Leasing) reports that after the Minnesota DOT offered Winona Leasing $600,000 for its land on which a car rental business was conducted, the offer was rejected and eventually, Mn/DOT settled for $900,000. The trial court also awarded the owners $32,000 in attorneys’ fees in spite of the fact that the owner’s contract with his lawyers called for a fee of one-third of the overage, or $100,000.

Lowball Watch — North Carolina

The Triangle Business Journal reports that in a taking case in Raleigh, the State DOT offered the owner $263,007, but eventually a jury awarded $1.2 million. The issue that divided the parties was access in the after condition. The taking partially eliminated the subject property’s driveway and eliminated 50 of 99 parking spaces for five years during the construction. See Jeff Jeffrey, Jury Awards N.C. Property Ownr $1.3M Verdicts Against NCDOT, Triangle Business Journal, June 17, 2015.

Click on


Lowball Watch — Texas

News reaches us that a property owner in Wichita Falls, Texas, won a $445,365 judgment against a power company, as opposed to an initial offer of $55,000, later raised to nearly $140,000. The award was a $393,165 jury verdict, plus interest and costs, which came to a total of about $445,000.

The case is Oncor Electric Delivery Co. v. Edward Clack, Case No. C-330-E. The news item does not indicate what factual or legal issue(s) divided the parties, to make the jury verdict eight times the amount of the initial offer. See

Lowball Watch — Ohio

The Columbus Dispatch of August 20, 2014, brings the news that the Ohio Court of Appeals has awarded  $1.3 million for the taking of a 0.205 slice of land. The City of Westerville offered $145,855, but that did not factor in the city’s taking of the power to deny access, and impair visibility of the remainder property. Nonetheless the trial court awarded only $145,855. This award was reversed on appeal and the owners were awarded $1.3 million.

So here we have a reminder of the rule that when it comes to severance damages, it’s not what the condemnor means to do with the taken land, but rather what powers does it acquire. So if the condemnor takes the right to deny access, that’s what has to be valued; whether the condemnor actually exercises that power to the fullest or not.

For the full story go to


Lowball Watch — Oregon

Word reaches us from Oregon that the Beaverton School District wound up with a $6.7 million verdict against it, on its offer of $1.8 million, for a 15-acre tract of land it took for a school site. See Beaverton School District eminent domain trial ends with $6.7 million verdict, click on .

The jury deliberated for 10 hours. The jury verdict was 9 to 3. “In addition to the $6.7 million for the 15 acres, the district must cover legal fees for both sides, which could be hefty.” No further details are given.

Lowball Watch — Virginia

Because of its first-person sincere-sounding tale of a citizen’s confrontation with a lowball offer, and its happy ending, we reproduce this story in its entirety.


Jack Remembers: In eminent domain, if God can be miserly so can elected officials, Richmond News (On line), Apr.25, 2014.

By Jack Hackley

This is an election year and few people realize when they vote for mayor, aldermen, county commissioners and some state officials, they are actually giving these people the right to take their property at whatever price they so desire.

It is called “power of eminent domain.” It is the ultimate power we give our elected officials and it should not be abused.

Our farm is located on the edge of town bordering I-70.  We have been hit with eminent domain seven times, probably a state record. All have been a disaster, and the last one the worst.  The city of Oak Grove put in a new sewer plant and had to go through a high fertility field on our property with 2,000 ft. of sewer line and five manholes.  For this 20-foot easement and five manholes that we would have to farm around forever, we were offered $145.  The city had paid an appraiser $7,000 to come up with that figure.

The mayor at the time had publically stated that God had made all of his decisions pertaining to the city.  After being offered $145, he had almost convinced me that God was a miser.
When I complained to him and the aldermen, they informed me that the city manager was handling this acquisition.  When I went to the city manager, he informed me that since they had to take us to court it was now in the hands of the city attorney and his associates.

I was never able to determine what the city paid a fleet of lawyers from Lee’s Summit to go before a Lexington judge to defend the $145 offer.

Everyone I communicated with in the exercise of eminent domain across our property, the only fair one was the judge who told the lawyers and the city administrator to go back to Oak Grove and negotiate in good faith.
We had to hire a lawyer and finally received $12,000 instead of $145.

So remember when you vote, ask yourself this question: “If this office holder takes my property, will he give me a fair price?”

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or  Visit


Postscript: With all due respect, Mr. Hackley’s statement that government officials can give land owners whatever price they desire for land being taken, is incorrect. As Mr. Hackley demonstrates, you can fight city hall and win. All it takes is a competent lawyer who knows his business, who in this case saw to it that Mr. Hackley was awarded over ten times the amount of money the county offered for his land.

Lowball Watch — The Feds

A tip of our hat to Dwight Merriam for alerting us to a new U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision, Lost Tree Village Corp. v. United States, No. 08-117L, opinion filed March 14, 2014.

This was an inverse condemnation case arising out of the denial of a federal development permit under Section 404, and the valuation figures of both sides painted a stark picture. Following an earlier detour to the Federal Circuit on the issue of liability, once liability was found, and the case went to a valuation trial, the owner contended that the before value (with permit) was $4,285,000, and the after value (without the permit) was $25,000. The government contended for a before value of $3,910,000, and an after value of $30,000.

The court found a taking using the Penn Central three-factor approach, and awarded $4,217,887.93, with attorneys fees to be calculated later. For earlier rounds of this litigation, see 100 Fed.Cl. 412 (2011) and 707 F.3d 1286 (Fed.Cir. 2013),

You can find a link to the entire 15-page opinion in today’s post on Robert Thomas’ blog

Lowball Watch — Texas reports a condemnation case from Cleburne, Texas, as follows. The taking was by Peregrine Pipelineline Co. for a mile long pipeline easement, from Eagle Ford Land Partners. The offer was $80,000. The jury awarded $1.6 million, and after the court added interest, the total award came to $2.1 million. The controversy centered on the presence vel non of severance damages. PR Newswire, Texas Landowners Win $2.1 Million Judgment Against Pipeline Company Over Lower Property Value, March 24, 2014..


Lowball Watch — Louisiana

We are informed that in an eminent domain case in Terrebone Parish, Louisiana, the Parish originally deposited $236,492.90, to which it added another $48,7899.18. The case then went to trial where after four days of trial (March 17-20, 2014), the jury awarded additional compensation, bringing the total up to $959,448.23, plus interest as well as attorneys and expert fees to be calculated later.

The case is Terrebone Parish Consolidated Government v. CMM Properties, LLC, No. 165775, 

Lowball Watch — New York

The AAA-Electricians case was a taking of 18.8 acres by the Village of Haverstraw which then transferred the subject land to a developer. The  village offered the owners $3,480,000, and it made an “advance payment” of $2,596,150, claiming a miscalculation. But at trial, the village came in with an opinion of value of $1,512,000, less $512,000 for cleanup. While this went on, the village resold the property to a developer for $3.5 million.

The trial court (there are no juries in New York condemnation trials) found that the village acted in bad faith and awarded $6,500,000 as just compensation for the taking.

On appeal. Held: affirmed.

For a more detailed writeup of this case by Michael Rikon, the owner’s counsel, go to