March 13, 2012, by
Claudia J. Gorham
Some states require the government to pay for all of the costs incurred by a property owner when it condemns land, however, California Eminent Domain Law only requires a public agency to pay for attorney's fees and litigation expenses when a court finds "that the offer of the plaintiff [public entity] was unreasonable and that the demand of the defendant [the property owner] was reasonable viewed in the light of the evidence admitted [at trial] and the compensation awarded [judgment]. . . ." (Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 1250.410.) In a recent case, Cal. Dept. of Transportation v. Menigoz, the State accepted the property owners' statutory "final demand" several days before the scheduled trial date, resulting in a stipulated judgment. Upon the judgment being entered, the property owners' moved for their litigation expenses (attorneys' fees, experts' fees, trial preparation costs, etc.). The court granted the motion, in part, because the parties had spent considerable expense in preparing for trial.