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Eminent Domain

Public projects often require large tracts of land to become a reality, and the more ambitious the project, the more likely that municipalities and private companies acting in quasi-public roles will need to invoke powers of eminent domain to acquire necessary private property and access rights from adjacent landowners.

The law of eminent domain is complex, controversial, and inherently litigious.  Perhaps that’s the reason Zausmer, August & Caldwell has become the firm of choice for the City of Detroit, Wayne County, and private property owners on either side of eminent domain proceedings across Michigan. In this trusted advisor role, we’re frequently involved in:

  • Title research and investigation
  • Preliminary negotiations and litigation avoidance
  • Institution of formal condemnation actions
  • Determination of property rights and just compensation
  • Trial and appellate proceedings

Over the past three decades, we have represented the City of Detroit in various high profile projects including the Cobo Hall expansion, Jefferson Conner Industrial Revitalization Project, Veterans Administration Hospital, City Airport expansion, Fox Theater District acquisitions, and Tiger Stadium matters.

We’ve also represented Wayne County on the Metro Airport runway expansions and the Pinnacle Aeropark Project.  Currently, we are representing ITC Holdings, Inc., the country’s largest independent transmission company, in eminent domain proceedings pending in counties across the state.

Other examples of our work include:

Wayne County v. Britton Trust

    In this case, we succeeded in persuading the Michigan Supreme Court that the law of personal property and fixtures lacked necessary clarity.  The Court’s unanimous decision overruled decades of prior precedent, invalidated multiple standard jury instructions, and resulted in millions of dollars in savings to municipalities in eminent domain matters.
Simpson-Batavia Transmission Line

    Working closely with ITC’s land acquisition team, we acquired more than 100 easements, coordinated with Right-of-Way Agents on the voluntary acquisition of numerous parcels, and eventually initiated condemnation proceedings to secure property rights necessary for a new ITC transmission line that is now operational in Western Michigan.
United States v Commodity Export Company

    We also represent private landowners subject to eminent domain proceedings, as in this case where we fought the United States government over issues of first impression regarding federal regulatory authority and takings law.  After a 20-year battle in which the government initially offered $650,000 for our client’s land and business, we ultimately settled the case for $14.9 million, the largest settlement in Michigan in 2001 as reported to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Few law firms in Michigan possess the amount of experience we have in this important area. Under the leadership of Managing Shareholder Mark Zausmer, who quite literally wrote the book on eminent domain in the state as a principal draftsman of Michigan’s Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act, our attorneys continue to achieve outstanding results both in the field and in the courtroom.

Attorneys in this Practice Area

NamePositionPhoneContact
Apel, Joshua D.Associate(248) 254- 4832
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Applin, Amy S.Shareholder(248) 254-4865Vcard
Boardman, Mischa M.Shareholder(248) 254-4816Vcard
Hurvitz, Steven J.Associate(248) 254-4990Vcard
Johnson, Andrea M.Shareholder(248) 254-4844Vcard
Kingston, Jessica G.Associate(248) 254-4980Vcard
Sullivan, Devin R.Associate(248) 254-4824Vcard
Wawrzyniak, Lauren M.Associate(248) 254-4912Vcard
Zausmer, Mark J.Shareholder(248) 851-4111Vcard
Zwiren, Kyle T.Associate(248) 851-4111Vcard
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