I have a friend whose property was seized by the city for public use. We think he was underpaid because it was worth more than the City paid. How could this disagreement be prosecuted?

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    The Supreme Court defines just compensation as "the market value of the property at the time of the taking contemporaneously paid in money." Past that, this question isn't really answerable. We can't tell you how much someone can sue for, or even if they can. The amount is always entirely dependent on the specific case.
    – animuson
    Sep 7, 2015 at 2:30
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    @animuson - perfect answer; why not post it as such?
    – feetwet
    Sep 7, 2015 at 2:40
  • Did your friend accept the payment for the property? If he took the money and cashed the check, it may be too late to argue that he was underpaid for the property.
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 31, 2018 at 21:50
  • @RonBeyer It may depend on whether he relied on statements by the City, such as their valuation. Jan 1, 2019 at 15:36

1 Answer 1


Compensation is normally the "fair market value", i.e. what a willing seller would receive from a willing buyer. Professional appraisals are often used to help determine what this value would be.

The exact value and whether an appropriate price was paid will depend on the specific facts of the case, both as to value and as to the procedure which was followed to set a price.

If a person thinks that a price offered or paid is too low, consulting a local realtor or appraiser to get an independent estimate of value might be a good idea, and then perhaps consulting a lawyer, preferably local, who has expertise in eminent domain issues. Such a lawyer may well be able to give you some idea if it is worth proceeding in an initial consultation for only a limited fee.

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