Georgia Supreme Court Halts Abandonment, Reinstates Property Owner Award

by: Joseph Grather
21 Jul 2014

The Georgia Supreme Court recently reversed a decision of the Georgia Court of Appeals and reinstated a special master’s award of $5,187,000 in favor of the property owner for the taking of its property by eminent domain. Full text of Dillard Land Investments, LLC v. Fulton County opinion here.

In short, the Supreme Court held “that a condemnor is not entitled to voluntarily dismiss a condemnation action unilaterally once the special master renders his award” and reversed the Court of Appeals decision that permitted the condemnor to withdraw from the condemnation after the special masters award.

For more info, check out the posting of our colleague Charles Ruffin, Esq. of Owners’ Counsel of America, here.

The procedures in New Jersey are somewhat different and specifically controlled by the Eminent Domain Act.  Here, a condemning authority is entitled to abandon a taking at any time after the filing of a complaint and before or within 30 days after the filing of the award of the condemnation commissioners, but only IF a Declaration of Taking has not been filed.  In cases where a Declaration of Taking has been filed, the condemning authority is not entitled to abandon a taking unless it has consent of the owner.  N.J.S.A. 20:3-35. In either event, the owner is entitled to damages, including costs and fees, in the event of an abandonment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 20:3-24 and 26.