Eminent Domain and Condemnation


Dykema is among one of the most experienced law firms, in the State of Michigan, with respect to eminent domain/condemnation proceedings. Dykema has standing institutional knowledge and experience in the area of eminent domain, having represented agencies in the State of Michigan over the past 11 years involving hundreds of parcels and acquiring hundreds of miles of right-of-way. The projects Dykema has been involved in often involve multiple legal components and complexities that require the sophistication and guidance which only seasoned and experienced litigation professionals can provide. Dykema delivers innovative and comprehensive legal services for all aspects of both minor and major eminent domain projects, including:

  • Working closely with right-of-way agents to maximize the highest number of voluntary real property rights obtained;
  • Developing unique strategies to minimize just compensation awards;
  • Trying eminent domain cases to successful verdict/no-causes;

  • Significant experience in dealing with the top eminent domain landowner attorneys throughout the State;

  • Significant experience deposing and cross-examining some of the most prominent eminent domain appraisers throughout the State;

  • Facilitating/Mediating eminent domain cases before special panels;

  • Filing creative motions in limine to limit and/or preclude damage arguments at trial;

  • Negotiating complex MRE 703 Orders to streamline the trial process;

  • Developing creative settlement solutions to minimize litigation costs and potential exposure;

  • Longstanding relationships with a significant number of highly experienced eminent domain appraisers and other experts who specialize in eminent domain; and

  • Active members of key industry trade groups such as the International Right-of-Way Association (IRWA).

A representative sample of recent eminent domain projects Dykema has worked on include:

35 Mile New Pipe Line Project – Wayne/Washtenaw County, Michigan

This project involved construction of a 35 mile new 16 inch pipeline to provide an alternate refinery fuel supply to the Detroit Metro Area. The project included the acquisition of easements for right-of-way over approximately 30 parcels, in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties, utilizing the eminent domain process.

7 Mile Double Circuit 138kV transmission line, Kalamazoo, Michigan

The project was concluded in 2016 and involved construction of a new substation and two new overhead 138kV transmission lines over approximately 7 miles and 67 properties in Western Michigan.

140 Mile 345kV transmission line, Thumb Region, Michigan

This project was completed in 2015 and consisted of an approximately 140 mile long, double circuit 345 kV (345,000 volts) overhead electric transmission line and four new substations to meet the identified minimum and maximum wind energy potential of Michigan’s Thumb Region. There were approximately 600 parcels at issue in four separate counties. Dykema attorneys tried to verdict 4 cases in two separate counties resulting in jury verdict in favor of the agency, i.e. no additional money was awarded beyond the Good Faith Offer. The remaining cases were settled through a comprehensive facilitation, which resulted in multi-million dollar savings to the agency.

30 Mile 138kV transmission line, Coldwater, Michigan

This project was concluded in early 2011 and involved construction of a new electric transmission line through Mendon, Leonidas, Colon, Matteson, and Batavia Townships in St. Joseph and Branch Counties. The project involved dozens of properties and was comprised of an approximate 30 mile, single circuit 138 kilovolt (kV) overhead transmission line installed on galvanized poles between an existing substation west of Colon, Michigan, and another substation just west of Coldwater, Michigan.

21 Mile, 120kV transmission line, Livingston County, Michigan

A new overhead transmission line, constructed in 2009, through Genoa, Osceola, Hartland, Brighton, and Milford townships in Livingston and Oakland Counties. The project was comprised of a single circuit 120 kilovolt (kV) line installed on galvanized poles between an existing substation in Genoa Township, Livingston County, and connected to another substation located at the site of a major automotive manufacturer.

Multiple Vegetation Management Projects, Michigan

Dykema is handling a variety of ongoing projects to assist utilities in obtaining expanded right-of-way easements in order to address the current regulatory environment with regard to vegetation management and other operational and maintenance issues. Many of the existing utility easements are over 70 years old and require updated rights to meet best practices and comply with present day regulations.

In summary, Dykema has substantial industry experience involving a large volume of complex eminent domain work within the State of Michigan. Dykema has a dedicated team of trial attorneys, including Members (Partners), Senior Counsel, Associates and Paralegals who specialize in the area of eminent domain/condemnation and are dedicated to achieving positive results efficiently and cost effectively. This team routinely leverages over a decade worth of condemnation experience involving extensive infrastructure and utility projects to insure the highest level of representation.