Eminent Domain - Condemnation

Eminent Domain is the right of a condemning authority (DOT, Georgia Power, city or county government, et cetera) to take private property for public use (roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, power lines, et cetera). Georgia law requires that a property owner be paid "just and adequate compensation" for any property taken or damaged by a condemning authority. Accordingly, a property owner is entitled to be paid for the land actually taken and for any damage suffered to any remaining land left after the taking.

As a general rule, "just and adequate compensation" means the property's fair market value at the time of the taking. In certain instances, there are non-fair market valuations which apply. One example is when a property is unique as that term is defined under Georgia law. Another example is when the property being taken is being used to operate a business (fast-food restaurant, car dealership, bank, shopping center, convenience store, gas station, et cetera).

While a property owner's right to compensation under Georgia law is absolute, the road to recovery is full of dangerous curves, detours, and dead-ends which an inexperienced eminent domain - condemnation attorney is ill-equipped to navigate. Accordingly, the eminent domain process can be long and complicated and many people fear "taking on City Hall" or "fighting the Government". This fear need not paralyze you into inaction or worse, dissuade you into accepting less than the compensation you deserve.

When faced with the threat of condemnation or a payment from a condemning authority in lieu of condemnation, do not falter; stand resolute and contact CARL R. VARNEDOE at JONES, OSTEEN & JONES for a free initial consultation.

Mr. Varnedoe has and continues to dedicate a substantial portion of his practice to the representation of individuals and businesses in eminent domain - condemnation cases. Mr. Varnedoe has NEVER represented a condemning authority. His passion has been and remains defending personal property rights.

A representative sampling of Mr. Varnedoe's efforts to educate, advocate and advance the interests of private private property rights is set forth below:

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS/PUBLICATIONS:

Speaker- February 2013, “Cost to Cure and the Business: What Loss can be Mitigated?” with paper

Interviewed- May 2010, “Eminent Domain”: Smart Business Atlanta; May 2010, Vol. 7 Issue 6, p. 22

Speaker- February 2009, “Taking a Condemnation Case to Trial” with paper

Speaker- January 2008, “Award of Attorney’s Fees in Georgia: Ethical Issues and Other Grounds for Fee Awards” with paper

Co-Author- "Taking an Eminent Domain Case to Trial", National Business Institute, Atlanta, Georgia, September 2004

PUBLISHED EMINENT DOMAIN APPELLATE OPINIONS:

DOT V. PATTEN SEED COMPANY, 290 Ga. App. 532 (2008);

DOT v. OGBURN HARDWARE & SUPPLY, INC., 273 Ga. App. 124 (2005)

REPRESENTATIVE CASES:

October 2013-
Negotiated pre-condemnation settlement for manufacturing plant owners which reduced the amount of land taken, improved access to property and resulted in a 25% compensation increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

January 2013-
Negotiated $3.1 million pre-condemnation settlement for residential developer for vacant slated for condemnation by GDOT. Settlement was a 226% increase above GDOT’s initial offer.

October 2010-
Jury verdict in favor of tenant-operator for GDOT’s partial taking of convenience food store with retail fuel sales. Jury verdict resulted in $199,615.86 in additional compensation for Client above GDOT’s final offer.

July 2010-
Negotiated a settlement for owner of vacant land partially condemned by GDOT. Settlement was a 237% increase above compensation GDOT paid into court.

September 2009–
Co-counsel on behalf of hotel franchisee securing $1.7 million settlement with GDOT for pure business loss recovery.

October 2008–
Co-counsel securing a $2.3 million settlement of GDOT’s partial taking of a convenience store. Settlement represented a 125% increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

August 2008–
Co-counsel securing a jury verdict in favor of convenience store real estate investor. Verdict was 300% greater GDOT’s highest expert witness’s opinion of value.

July 2008–
Co-counsel securing a $2.55 million settlement for a nationally traded REIT for partial taking of property under lease as an auto dealership. Settlement was a 252 % increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

November 2007–
Co-counsel securing settlement for owners of vacant tract of land partially taken by GDOT. Settlement was a 3,266% increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

April 2007–
Co-counsel securing settlement for partial taking of interstate-oriented driving range/recreational facility. Settlement was a 340% increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

January 2007–
Co-counsel securing jury verdict in favor of sod farmer for partial taking of vacant agricultural tract by GDOT. Verdict was a 429% increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

November 2005–
Co-counsel securing settlement in favor of national fast food chain restaurant. Settlement was a 153% increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

September 2004–
Co-counsel securing settlement for taking of convenience food store with retail fuel sales tenant's business. Settlement was a 181% increase over GDOT’s initial offer.

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