What is Inverse Condemnation?
An “inverse condemnation” action is a two-step process in which each owner would be suing ACP because ACP has taken or damaged the owner’s property without the payment of “just compensation”.
Inverse condemnation is a term used in the law to describe a situation in which the government-approved entity (in this case the ACP, LLC) takes private property (in this case your easement to the common area) but fails to pay the compensation required by the federal and state constitutions so the owner has to sue to obtain the required just compensation. (Video from www.lawinfo.com).
The basis for the suit is that, by taking an easement and constructing a natural gas pipeline in the common areas, ACP is taking and damaging each owner’s easement of use and enjoyment in those areas. The “damages” are the decrease in value to each owner’s individual property as a result of the pipeline in the common area.
In order to receive compensation, each Wintergreen property owner would need to file and win a lawsuit against the company (ACP, LLC).
What Is Required For A Successful “Inverse Condemnation” Lawsuit?
In Virginia, an “inverse condemnation” lawsuit has two steps, both of which need to be decided in court:
Step 1: Determination of Liability
(Liability via Va. Code § 8.01-184)
Does the ACP have liability and do you, as a property owner, have a valid claim to seek compensation? There are four elements that need to be satisfied in order to prevail. Attorneys believe Wintergreen property owners satisfy all four, but this will be argued in court and, like most legal matters, there is no guarantee of success.
Step 2: Determination of Compensation
(Valuation via Va. Code § 8.01-187)
If you prevail on Step 1, the court will decide the amount of compensation for each individual property owner. This is determined in part through valuation evidence which each property owner will need to develop with regards to their own individual property, and may include obtaining an appraisal. The purpose of the appraisal is to determine the amount of lost value to each specific property because of the pipeline.
All information that Friends of Wintergreen, Inc. has provided or will provide in the future with respect to potential inverse condemnation lawsuits is offered solely as a public service to Wintergreen property owners and does not constitute the solicitation or provision of legal advice. This information is provided in furtherance of the mission of Friends of Wintergreen, Inc. to protect and enhance the heritage, environment, and natural beauty of the greater Wintergreen area in Nelson County, Virginia, for local citizens, visitors, and the general public. Per your request, the information you provide will be submitted to the law firm of Waldo and Lyle, PC. It is solely your decision whether to retain Waldo and Lyle, PC and to maintain any relationship with them in the future. Friends of Wintergreen, Inc. makes no representation with respect to the results you will receive if you retain Waldo and Lyle, PC.