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Condemnation Litigation Expenses and WDOT…Again

Compared to most states, Wisconsin law is quite favorable to landowners in condemnation valuation litigation seeking to recover their litigation expenses. Landowners can recover all expenses – including reasonable attorney’s fees, appraisal, and engineering fees – if they recover at least 15% more than the highest amount offered by the condemnor, as long as the amount is […]

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Supreme Court Rejects Business’s Loss of Value Claim for Lost Street Access

Highway projects regularly change the access points that properties have to roads, and landowners believe (correctly or incorrectly) the change in the access affects the value of their business or property. Few can argue that access isn’t important to certain types of commercial uses. During construction of highway projects, the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) regularly […]

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Raising Issues of Statutory Compliance…And No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

What happens when a condemnor offers to pay more for a taking than its appraiser found for damages? Most landowners would be pleased. In this case, the landowner apparently was not, claiming the condemnor failed to base its jurisdictional offer on the appraisal amount because the offer was higher than the appraisal. Thus, the argument […]

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Court of Appeals Allows Expert Testimony on Permit Issue and Bars Similar Sale Evidence

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently issued a decision permitting a DOT appraiser to testify that a landowner would have been required to obtain a new driveway access permit from the DOT to convert his property to a commercial use. This resulted in a lower value for the subject property. In the same ruling, the […]

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Uneconomic Remnant: One Circuit Court Judge’s View

As an eminent domain practitioner, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision in Waller v. American Transmission Company last year left me…unsatisfied. Instead of acknowledging the statutory morass created by the legislature (incidentally, a morass acknowledged by both condemnors’ and landowners’ counsel), the majority decision ignores the procedural problems with the statutes and does nothing to make […]


No Compensation for Loss of Direct Access to a Controlled-Access Highway

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently held in an unpublished opinion that a property owner was not entitled to compensation when the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) removed its direct access to a controlled-access highway and replaced it with an alternate access. Hoffer Properties, LLC (“Hoffer”), owned property that abutted State Highway 19. The property had […]

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Seizing Mortgages – New Cities Show Interest in Richmond’s Eminent Domain Plan

In a previous post, we discussed the city of Richmond, California, and its failure to get a supermajority vote to move forward with its plan to seize underwater mortgages through its eminent domain power. While it failed to pass the resolution, it sought other California cities, such as San Francisco, to join a joint powers authority […]


Recovery of Litigation Expenses in Wisconsin and a Landowner Attorney Gaming the System

Based on anecdotal evidence I have acquired over the years, and certainly not any rigorous research, I have concluded that Wisconsin has a fairly generous statutory scheme for compensating landowner attorneys if they meet the threshold for recovering litigation expenses. Again, solely based on personal observation, it is not uncommon for attorneys representing landowners to […]


Takings Cannot Be Too Large or Too Small: They Must Be “Just Right”

The blog recently posted an article explaining the Utah Supreme Court, in Utah Dep’t of Transportation v. Carlson, No. 20120414 (June 24, 2014), addressed the issue of whether or not the Utah DOT could take excess land in order to avoid a dispute regarding severance damages. In that case, the Utah DOT took all […]