What is “inverse condemnation” in California?

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution reads, in pertinent part:  No person shall be. . . deprived of  . . . property, without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  Similarly, the California Constitution, Article I, Section 19 reads “Private property may be taken or damaged for a public use and only when just compensation . . . for, the owner.”

These provisions are the constitutional basis for both eminent domain and inverse condemnation.

When I was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and later Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, I was involved in both eminent domain defense and defending the cities from inverse condemnation liability.  Now, as a private attorney, I represent clients in inverse condemnation claims against public agencies in California.

Most people know eminent domain is the taking of private property by the government (or in some cases a private entity such as an electric utility or a railroad) for a public use.   What, then is inverse condemnation?  Inverse condemnation is when a private party sues the government for the government’s taking of private property for a public use.

Some common areas an individual might sue a public entity for inverse condemnation include flooding, mud slides and debris flow, backed up sewer lines, broken water mains, landslides, brush fires, emission of noxious gas, and other similar disasters.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.


A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

About Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law
Michael Reiter is a Redlands, California-based lawyer, serving San Bernardino County and Riverside County in Southern California's Inland Empire. Michael Reiter is a lawyer practicing in the following fields of law: Municipal Law, Code Enforcement Law, Small Business Law and Real Estate Law. Michael Reiter practices in all the local courts, including San Bernardino Superior Court, Riverside Superior Court, and the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Michael Reiter was admitted to the California State Bar in 1998. Michael Reiter was Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands, a Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Bernardino, and Staff Attorney for Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino. Michael Reiter serves all of San Bernardino and Riverside County, Orange County, and Los Angeles County. Michael Reiter can be reached at (909) 296-6708, or by electronic mail at michael@michaelreiterlaw.com. 300 E. State St. #517 Redlands CA 92373-5235

2 Responses to What is “inverse condemnation” in California?

  1. exam 88 says:

    The City putted up screen fence (facility) on my property to screen the view of housing development known in California as Spite Fence (nuisance). These tightly spaced dense tall trees block wind and air in addition to obstruction of view placed at the request of neighboring homeowners across the street. Is there anything I can do to have the City stop the wrongful practice?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: