Eminent Domain:

What you need to know when the government targets your property for acquisition. 

What is Eminent Domain?

Eminent Domain, also known as Condemnation, is the government’s power to involuntarily acquire private property from business and property owners, but only under lawful circumstances. Every government condemnation action should be scrutinized to ensure that the action of the government is lawful.

Michigan Eminent Domain Requirements

The Michigan Constitution requires that government have a valid public use to condemn private property and that the government pay just compensation to owners. The Michigan Legislature enacted the Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act affording many rights and protections to business and property owners, but technicalities in the Act can pose dangers for anyone unfamiliar with how the Act is implemented by the Courts. For example, failure to follow the technical requirements of the Act can result in an owner losing the right to compensation that it was otherwise entitled to under Michigan law.

Large condemnation projects can take years of planning and owners may get information from newspapers or public meetings from time to time before the project moves forward. With smaller projects, survey crews and stakes may be the first hint of a potential project. At some point, owners are usually approached by a Right-of-Way professional seeking to voluntarily acquire the subject property. The government is required to offer an “estimate” of just compensation for the property.

Historical Precedents:

The U.S. Supreme Court first examined federal eminent domain power in 1875 in Kohl v. United States, giving rise to numerous and long-standing legal precedents for this practice.


Approximately 98% of eminent domain cases filed in court result in the acquisition of the property by the condemning party. This illustrates the significant power that government entities wield in these situations.


Did you know that the State of Michigan affords more protections to owners than many other states and the Federal Government?

What to do when faced with an Eminent Domain Situation

Be careful before accepting the government’s estimate. The government’s initial estimate can be wrong. For example, it may underestimate the impact of the project on the business or property remaining. It may also overlook business interruption and other damages provided under Michigan law.

An owner is entitled to obtain their own independent appraisal as well as reimbursement of the reasonable appraisal fee. If the matter proceeds to court, the owner is entitled to reimbursement of many of the fees incurred in the case such as expert testimony. The owner may also be entitled to recovery of a reasonable attorney fee as provided in the Act.


Hilger Hammond Eminent Domain Attorney Ron Reynolds has been providing representation to owners impacted by eminent domain for over 30 years. He has successfully represented small businesses and property owners, large national and international corporations, and those owners in between in obtaining full and fair just compensation. Example of projects he’s worked on include the infamous Poletown Project in Detroit, the recent Gordie Howe International Bridge Project, numerous MDOT and county road commission road projects across the state, as well as drain commission and municipal projects. If your business or property is exposed to a potential eminent domain project, contact Ron for a free consultation. 

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