In Florida, when private property owners believe that their property has been taken by a condemning authority without compensation, there are two legal remedies: Inverse Condemnation and/or Bert J. Harris Act. Most landowner attorneys prefer to use inverse condemnation because if they win the case the condemning authority must pay their attorney fees. In a Bert J. Harris Case, there is a one in four chance that the Judge would award attorney fees and costs.
There are several types of Inverse Condemnation cases: Physical Taking with subcategories, Regulatory Taking, permanent taking or temporary taking. The landowner must prove that it was deprived of all or substantially all economically beneficial use of its property by direction action or lack of action taken by the governmental entity. This is no easy task.
As an example, if a County builds a road and during construction the actual road is built on private property that is a clear case and usually the Condemnor would pay for the private property. Another less clear case is if a County replaces a Stormwater pipe with a larger pipe and then private property owners have flooding on their land. The private property owner has to prove that the enlarged pipe is the cause of the flooding and that the occurrence of flooding is so severe that the use and value of the property has been taken.
Regulatory takings and Harris Act cases are extremely complicated. Litigation costs can be very expensive both for the landowner and the government. Landowner must exhaust all administrative remedies before beginning litigation. Mediation may be an alternative to litigation and give both parties an opportunity to create a better solution than litigation.
Celeste Adorno has successfully defended condemning authorities against Inverse Condemnation due to flooding on numerous occasions. Adorno Law Firm handles both types of Inverse Condemnation and Harris Act cases. She also mediates those types of cases.