Do you remember the 80’s? I sure do, Blondie sang Call Me and The Empire Strikes Back came out and we learned that Darth Vader was Luke’s father (still unbelievable nearly 40 years later)! More importantly, the First District Court of Appeal remembers the 80’s and recently referred to a decision it handed down in 1980 when ruling on an inverse condemnation claim.
Who owns an inverse condemnation claim?
In the case from this summer, Robert and Susan Simon owned property in Jacksonville that included a pond into which storm water drained. After owning the property for more than ten years, the Simons decided it was time for the City of Jacksonville to maintain the pond. The Simons filed an inverse condemnation suit against the City, claiming that the City’s drainage of water into the pond amounted to a taking of the pond. The trial court disagreed, saying that if a taking had occurred, it took place years before the Simons acquired the property. (I have talked about inverse condemnation before on this blog.)
On appeal, the First District went back to its 1980 decision in another case, saying that:
[o]nly the owner at the time of the taking has suffered an injury entitling him to recovery: [t]he theory is that where the government interferes with a person’s property to such a substantial extent, the owner has lost a part of his interest in the real property. Substituted for the property loss is the right to compensation. When the original owner conveys what remains of the realty, he does not transfer the right to compensation for the portion he has lost without a separate assignment of such right.”
Impact of decision
What this means is that a property owner’s right to compensation when a right is taken (remember, property rights are often referred to as a bundle of sticks) cannot be transferred without an express transfer of the right to compensation. In other words, when you’ve lost one of your sticks, only you are entitled to be compensated for the loss of that stick. The person who buys your property doesn’t acquire your right to compensation for the loss you suffered. If you have questions, let’s talk. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 239-344-1326.