Attorney’s Fees and Expert Costs Hearing
- At the conclusion of your case, the law permits your attorney and your expert witnesses to claim their fees and expenses from the condemning authority.
- This is a separate hearing and you usually do not have to attend.
- At the hearing, the judge will decide, after hearing from your attorney and your experts, a reasonable fee for each of your experts.
- The fee awarded is completely separate from your award and is, typically, awarded to your attorney for disbursement to your expert witnesses.
- Once all of the monies are awarded and properly disbursed, your case is closed.
- After your case is closed, it is very difficult to reopen an eminent domain case unless highly unusual circumstances occur. Therefore, you must be sure that you are protected throughout your case against the condemning authority.
The following Florida Supreme Court case determined that property owners should be compensated for their reasonable attorneys fees and costs of defending an eminent domain case:
Dade County v. Brigham
47 So.2d 602, 604 (1950).
"Freedom to own and hold property is a valued and guarded right under our government. Full compensation is guaranteed by the Constitution to those whose property is divested from them by eminent domain. The theory and purpose of that guaranty is that the owner shall be made whole so far as possible and practicable. [ . . . ] A lay defendant whose property is to be taken is called upon to defend against such preparation and expert testimony of the County. It is unreasonable to say that such a defendant must suffer a disadvantage of being unable to meet this array of able, expert evidence, unless he shall pay for the same out of his own pocket."
This guarantee has been codified in the Florida Statutes:
This information is not intended as a conclusive explanation of the Law of Eminent Domain in Florida. It is to be considered only a summary for clients or prospective clients of this law firm. If you have any questions concerning a specific real estate transaction, you should consult an attorney experienced in the practice of real estate law.