Eminent Domain and Zoning Litigation

Dallas Commercial Litigation Attorneys

Eminent domain is the government’s authority to take ownership of privately owned property and repurpose that property for public use. When eminent domain is applied, either a government (state or federal) or a government-authorized private entity will take private property through a process known as condemnation. With condemnation, titles are transferred from a private property owner to the government or authorized condemning party.

In Texas and other states across the country, the government has the power to assume control of private land through eminent domain. Although the government has this power, it does not have the freedom to do so indiscriminately, without a fair process, nor without just compensation for the property owner.

Examples of reasons why a government might exercise eminent domain include:

  • Construction of new roadways, rail lines, high speed rail (bullet train), and other infrastructure projects.
  • Gas pipelines, water or sewage lines, electric power lines, and other utilities.
  • Large commercial-scale projects, including sports stadiums, arenas, or commercial retail.

In Texas, eminent domain and condemnation issues are frequently raised by these types of projects, including the Dallas to Houston Texas Central high speed rail, new interstates and highways, and other transportation and construction projects. Our legal team has the experience and resources to handle eminent domain cases involving the full range of public use projects.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Even when landowners are entitled to just and adequate compensation when their property is condemned for public use, the government’s offer may be much less than what a property owner believes is fair. In fact, property owners have the right to contest the government’s valuation of their land, and seek compensation that exceeds an initial offer. Achieving this, however, is a matter that demands the attention of experienced attorneys who know how to take the proper steps in fighting for full and fair compensation.

At Godwin Bowman & Martinez, our Dallas attorneys bring their aggressive litigation skills to each and every condemnation case. We understand the sensitivity involved when a government entity takes part or all of a property owner's land, as well as the frustration when condemnation causes harm to the property owner's remaining property. We fight for every property owner as if it were our own property. Our attorneys know condemnation law and procedures and are prepared to get our clients what they are rightfully owed for their property.

Texas Condemnation Process

Texas law establishes clear guidelines for how the government, or a private company with government permission, must conduct proceedings when initiating the condemnation process. Generally, the condemnation process will consist of:

  • Offer and negotiation – Private property must be appraised and landowners must be made aware of their rights. Landowners are entitled to copies of all appraisals, and may negotiate what they believe is the fair market value of their land.
  • Special commissioners’ hearing – When property owners and the condemning authority cannot agree on a value for the property being taken, the condemning authority will file a petition in a court at law and begin the process to set up a special commissioners' hearing. At that hearing, appointed special commissioners will hear both sides and decide on an award. Legal representation during this step is critical.
  • Objections and trial (if necessary) – When either the government or the landowner disagrees with the special commissioners’ award, objections can be filed and both parties will litigate at trial. Decisions handed down in trial may also be appealed by either party.

Discuss Your Case During an Initial Consultation

Headed by Chairman & CEO, Donald E. Godwin, one of the most highly respected trial attorneys in the United States, our eminent domain and zoning lawyers have fought for everything that is due to our clients, to their satisfaction, after a condemnation of their private land. If you have questions about an eminent domain and zoning matter, our legal team is readily available to discuss your case, explain your rights, and determine how we can help. Contact us to request an initial consultation.