A Case Study
When Jim Smith [name changed to protect client confidentiality] came to see attorney Steve Fincher, the Georgia Department of Transportation (the “GDOT”) had offered Mr. Smith $15,000 for the .33 acres they were taking from the front of his business on a busy street in Clayton County. Mr. Smith did not want to sell them a portion of his parking lot because he needed it for the 18 wheeler trucks he serviced to be able to turn around. It would ruin his business if the truckers could no longer have room to navigate his driveway. Unfortunately, part of his parking lot was being “condemned” as part of a road widening project. He had no choice. GDOT was taking his land whether he wanted them to or not, under the power of eminent domain, “for the greater good.” GDOT was paying Mr. Smith what they claimed the small strip of his land was worth. However, they were not offering what it would cost him to lose the property – the real value. So Mr. Smith began a process that would ultimately result in receiving over 50 times GDOT’s original offer.
How did Mr. Smith end up with so much more than the original offer? The simple answer is patience and a skilled attorney.
Patience? The process took over two years. The process included dealing with appraisers, attending a Special Master’s Hearing, turning down a second GOT offer of $45,000, and meeting with a Business Evaluation Specialist. Most of all, it took trusting Steve. Trusting that Steve is a skilled attorney, who understood the value of what Mr. Smith had lost and what Mr. Smith’s rights were under eminent domain law.
When the jury listened to the evidence of how much of an impact the loss of just 1/3 of an acre had on Mr. Smith’s business, they understood that he had to convert his business to only sales instead of sales and service since he could no longer install the parts the way he could before the taking of his property. They understood the real damage was not just in Mr. Smith’s loss of property, but in the damage to his business as well. They awarded Mr. Smith $800,000.
Sometimes .33 acres is only worth $15,000. Sometimes it’s not even worth that much. Sometimes it may be the most valuable portion of property you own. When you have property that is being taken due to a road widening or any other public project, you owe it to yourself to find out what your property might be worth in a condemnation taking.
Call us at (770) 478-9950 to find out if we can help you.