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.


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