Eminent Domain and
Condemnation

Eminent Domain is the power of the sovereign to take privately owned property for public use.  Condemnation is the legal process involved in taking property by eminent domain.  Acquiring property through eminent domain is often highly controversial.  Legal processes must be followed, and property owners must be treated fairly.  Owners are legally entitled to receive “just compensation” for the taking and damage to their property.  Just compensation means fair compensation, and fair market value is generally the measure.  Because the market value of real estate is a matter of opinion, it is not uncommon for the condemning agency’s property valuation to be lower than the property owner’s valuation.  Ensuring that compensation is fair and just to both sides requires experienced, skilled and effective legal representation.

Helmsing Leach has some of the most experienced and respected eminent domain lawyers in the southeastern United States.  The firm has represented both landowners and condemning agencies in some of the largest condemnation projects in Alabama.  We have successfully represented clients in all manner of condemnation cases, including matters involving highways, private access roads, historical sites, nature preserves, government buildings, billboards, power lines, storm water drainage, water and sewer lines, petroleum and natural gas pipelines, industrial complexes, compressor stations, urban renewal, urban redevelopment, airport expansions, college campus expansions, commercial office building acquisitions, convenience store (C stores) takings, underground gas storage rights, communication systems, regulatory takings and blight.  In short, there are few, if any, types of condemnation cases that we have not handled.

Lawyers in the Eminent Domain and Condemnation practice area have received the following honors, invitations for membership, and professional recognition:

  • Fellowship in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL)
  • Membership in the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE)
  • Chairman of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s Condemnation, Zoning and Land Use Committee
  • Chairman of the American Bar Association Real Property, Trust and
    Estate (RPTE) Section’s Condemnation Committee
  • Inclusion in Best Lawyers in America
  • Named Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers
  • Ranked by Chambers and Partners

The Firm’s lawyers are also members of the Owners Counsel of America (OCA).  The OCA is an invitation-only group of practicing eminent domain attorneys and scholars who focus on representing property owners in condemnation cases.  Each state has only one primary member.  Casey Pipes is the Primary Member of the OCA for Alabama, and Warren Herlong is an Emeritus Member.

Alternative Fee Arrangements

The Firm provides a free, no-obligation initial consultation with land owners whose property is targeted for condemnation.  In appropriate cases, and in the vast majority of cases, the Firm represents property owners on a contingency fee basis where we do not charge a fee unless we are able to improve on the condemning agency’s offer, and then our fee is only based on what we are able to recover above the agency’s offer.  This arrangement helps ensure that the fee is not out of proportion to the measure of success we achieve.

Selected Eminent Domain Judgments and Settlements

When we have represented the land owner we have achieved the following results:

DATE LOCATION AGENCY’S OFFER RECOVERY
Dec. 2021
Gulf Shores
$1,185,566
$3,694,118.58
Nov. 2019 Gulf Shores $403,000 $1,277,716
Sept. 2019 Orange Beach $3,883,100 $8,250,000
July 2018 Elmore $187,200 $352,676
Sept. 2017 Elmore $981,600 $1,685,035
Nov. 2016 Huntsville $2,000,000 $5,200,000
May 2016 Fairhope $188,870 $390,000
April 2015 Gulf Shores $206,000 $625,000
May 2014 Mobile $16,360 $114,000
May 2013 Mobile $61,834 $760,000
May 2013 Mobile $23,922 $250,000
May 2013 Mobile $27,624 $335,000
March 2013 Mobile $23,910 $395,000
Sept. 2012 Dothan $117,440 $799,000
Feb. 2011 Daphne $500 $156,000
Nov. 2010 Daphne $500 $180,205
August 2010 Auburn $701,000 $1,425,000
April 2010 Huntsville $75,663 $250,000
Feb. 2010 Birmingham $287,340 $438,682
April 2009 Phenix City $395,000 $2,000,000
Nov. 2007 Montgomery $647,550 $1,100,000
Sept. 2006 Auburn $263,200 $2,165,844
July 2006 Florence $124,200 $489,379
Jan. 2006 Florence $141,400 $522,987
May 2005 Mobile $137,400 $511,746

The Firm does not offer any guarantee of case results. Past results and past performance does not guarantee future results.  The above information should not create any  expectation that a similar result can be obtained for others.  Each case is decided and evaluated on its own specific factual and legal circumstances.  Contact us and we will be happy to discuss your case and what we may be able to achieve for you.