734-359-7018
Now Accepting New Clients!
Blog

REAL ESTATE 70: The Court held that the trial court had subject-matter jurisdiction over the eminent domain complaint filed by Plaintiff.

Plaintiff filed an eminent-domain complaint requesting the condemnation of certain real property owned by Defendant. Plaintiff sought easements across the land for the purpose of rebuilding and upgrading an existing transmission line. On the basis of an appraisal,Plaintiff submitted a purported good-faith written offer of $84,000 as just compensation for obtaining the proposed easements. There is no dispute that Defendant rejected the offer.  Defendant moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(4), arguing that the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff “failed to make a good-faith offer for all property rights impacted by its taking,” which is a jurisdictional prerequisite under the Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act (UCPA). Defendant contended that Plaintiff’s so-called “good-faith” offer was deficient because it did not fully take into consideration the impact of the condemnation on the remaining surrounding property owned by Defendant. In its supporting brief, Defendant maintained that Plaintiff needed to “make a good faith offer as to all the property rights impacted by the taking.” This included non-easement property belonging to Defendant over which Plaintiff would have unrestricted ingress and egress rights for purposes of accessing the easements, as well as non-easement property that Defendant could otherwise use to derive income now and in the future. Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s taking destroys these property rights, without making any offer of just compensation.  Applying a strict-compliance standard, the trial court ruled that the alleged good-faith written offer was woefully inadequate because the appraisal failed to substantively identify and value all of the various property rights and interests held by Defendant that would be affected by the condemnation. Concluding that it therefore lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, the trial court dismissed the action without prejudice.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

We review de novo the interpretation and application of the UCPA, as well as the question of whether a trial court has subject-matter jurisdiction. Similarly, this Court reviews de novo a ruling on a motion for summary disposition.

ANALYSIS

Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation therefore being first made or secured in a manner prescribed by law.  Compensation shall be determined in proceedings in a court of record. The purpose of the UCPA is to ensure that the guarantee of “just compensation” found in the Michigan Constitution is honored.. Under Michigan law, “just compensation” means the proper amount of compensation for condemned property after taking into account all the factors relevant to market value. The UCPA is to be strictly construed, and its jurisdictional conditions must be established in fact and cannot rest upon technical estoppel and waiver. At issue in this case is the interpretation and application of and interplay between MCL 213.55(1) and (3)(a).

 The purpose in requiring that a condemning authority first offer to purchase property for an amount no less than that which it believes to be full and just compensation is to encourage negotiated purchases of property needed for a public purpose and, thereby, avoid condemnation litigation entirely. Where such negotiations fail, however, the UCPA fulfills its constitutional purpose by requiring that just compensation for the property taken be determined by a trier of fact in a court of record.  In order to initially invoke the trial court's jurisdiction, strict compliance with the statutory language of the UCPA require[s] that the fee owners and any other owners of legal property interests be given a good-faith offer. Because a good-faith written offer is a necessary condition precedent to invoking the trial court's jurisdiction in condemnation proceedings under the UCPA, the failure to tender a statutorily compliant goodfaith written offer to all fee owners and any other owners of interests in the properties render[s] the trial court without subject-matter jurisdiction over the action.  In this case, the trial court ruled that the offer was deficient because the underlying appraisal purportedly failed to individually address and value several unique aspects of the property that would be impacted by Plaintiff’s easements. The trial court specifically cited (1) “ingress/egress rights,” (2) the “impact [on Defendant’s] existing operations,” and (3) the “impact on the ability of Defendant to expand and improve.” We conclude that the deficiencies Defendant complained of and found by the trial court did not reflect a failure to tender a good-faith written offer. Rather, the alleged deficiencies effectively pertained to ascertaining the proper amount of just compensation. We recognize that there can be a fine line between an offer that is so unsubstantiated that it can be characterized as revealing a lack of good faith and an offer that is made in good faith but does not accurately reflect an amount that equates to just compensation. But the means of defining that line for our purposes is found in the language of MCL 213.55(3)(a), which expressly concerns the assessment of “just compensation.” And MCL 213.55(3)(a), as indicated earlier, contemplates a situation where an owner claims that the agency is taking property other than the property described in the good faith written offer or claims a right to compensation for damage caused by the taking, apart from the value of the property taken, and not described in the good faith written offer.  This is the essence of Defendant’s argument. Moreover, the record does not support a determination that Plaintiff tendered the written offer in bad faith. Additionally, the trial court ruled that it could not entertain the condemnation action because it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction while at the same time the court effectively concluded that the written offer did not amount to just compensation because all aspects of the loss Defendant might suffer were not considered. This is part of the determination to be made by the trier of fact during litigation, i.e., when jurisdiction is being exercised.  In sum, we hold that the trial court both has subject-matter jurisdiction and that it erred by granting summary disposition in favor of Defendant.

ASSISTANCE WITH PROPERTY ISSUES

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking resolution to a property litigation matter?

If you are facing a residential or commercial real estate issue, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000

5 Common Misdemeanors Affecting People in Michigan

Originally posted on 11/08/2019 There are many different levels of crime and the consequences once someone has been charged with them. One bracket of crimes is known as a misdemeanor. Let’s go over this level of crime and some common...

PROBATE 44: The court held that the probate court did not err by declaring a will executed by the decedent invalid on the basis that she lacked testamentary capacity to execute it and that it was the product of petitioner’s undue influence.

Defendant and Decedent met in August 2017. In approximately November 2017, Decedent began talking constantly about wanting Defendant to take her to see an attorney for the purpose of changing her will. On March 19, 2018, Defendant filed a petition...

Michigan Expungement Law Updates For 2021

There has been a new laws regarding expungements for the state of Michigan.  Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that expands the criteria for expungements related to traffic offenses, marijuana convictions, and minor...

Wills and Trusts

Originally posted on: 02/14/2014 Aldrich Legal Service provides legal advice and representation for residents in Plymouth, Ann Arbor, and Southeast Michigan. We also review recent legal cases to examine what took place and what we can...

REAL ESTATE 68: Holding that plaintiffs-buyers’ allegations of fraud in this case arising from the sale of a residence did not preclude the trial court from granting defendants’ motion for summary disposition based on a release, the court affirmed.

This cause of action arises from plaintiffs’ purchase of a residence from defendant, who had rights in the house under a land contract from co-defendant, the legal owner of the house. Before the house was for sale, in January 2018, an upstairs...

REAL ESTATE 65: Determining that it could not conclude the trial court erred in its factual findings, and that it did not err in reforming a 2005 deed, the court affirmed the ruling that defendants were fee simple owners of the disputed 50-foot area

This case arose from a real-property dispute between brothers, as well as their respective wives. After a bench trial, the trial court rendered its findings of fact. The trial court determined that plaintiffs did not prove that excluding the...

FAMILY LAW 58: The trial court did not err by denying defendant-father’s motion to change custody and modify his parenting time of the parties’ child without having an evidentiary hearing to determine if there was proper cause or a change in circums

This case arose from a custody and parenting-time dispute between plaintiff-mother and father over their minor child. After father failed to respond to the paternity complaint within the 21 days of receipt of the complaint, mother filed an affidavit...

DIVORCE 53: Although the court affirmed the trial court’s decisions to deny defendant’s motions to set aside the default and the default JOD, it vacated the portions of the default JOD as to the distribution of marital property, custody, parenting t

Plaintiff filed for divorce. Defendant filed an answer and a counterclaim for divorce.  Plaintiff and defendant were both ordered to appear at the settlement conference. After defendant failed to appear, the trial court entered a default. Soon...

FAMILY LAW 53: The trial court erred by treating the parties’ GAL as an LGAL and denying the parties the right to question her at a hearing; however, the trial court did not err in requiring the parties to compensate the GAL for her services.

Plaintiff and Defendant were never married, but share a young son who was born in 2016. The parties have battled over custody, child support, and other parenting issues ever since. In the spring of 2019, the parties filed competing motions to modify...

The Difference Between Theft, Robbery, and Burglary

Original Post: 1/11/2019 Often, burglary, robbery, and theft are used interchangeably even though there are distinct differences between all of them. Though, what all three do have in common is they may involve the unlawful taking of...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
consultation
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000
734-237-6482
734-366-4405