When a government decides to acquire property through the exercise of its eminent domain authority, it only takes into account the market value of the land, not the human cost of its actions.
At Dawson & Sodd, we have represented clients in a wide range of property disputes with government entities. To the engineers and planners, the property they are condemning is just a spot on a map. To our clients, their property is more than that – it’s a place their family has called home, sometimes for generations; it’s a business that our clients have poured blood, sweat and tears into; it’s a vacant piece of land that held all the hopes and dreams they had for the future—the list goes on and on. We’re very aware of the emotional toll that condemnation proceedings can take on a property owner and their family. It’s why we fight so hard to protect the rights of Texas property owners who are facing eminent domain proceedings.
The recently released movie “Little Pink House” has brought back to light one of the Supreme Court’s most infamous eminent domain rulings. It vividly portrays the emotional devastation suffered by a neighborhood of homeowners who are forced out of their homes through the use of eminent domain to make way for a commercial development.
Our firm is sponsoring a screening of the movie for members of the Dallas Bar at 7:30 p.m. August 9 at the Angelika Theater at Mockingbird Station, 5321 E. Mockingbird in Dallas. There are a limited number of tickets available for this one-night only event. Click here to reserve your tickets now.
Fight for a Little Pink House
“Little Pink House,” which stars Catherine Keener, Aaron Douglas and Jeanne Tripplehorn, tells the true story of New London, Connecticut, homeowner Susette Kelo and her fight against the local government to keep her home after it had been selected for condemnation.
In 1997, Kelo, a paramedic, bought and renovated an old house in a working-class New London neighborhood. She painted it pink, after the John Mellencamp song. She turned the house into a home.
Unfortunately for Kelo, Pfizer pharmaceuticals liked the neighborhood as well. They thought it was the perfect place to build a new facility. The company struck a deal with the city government to purchase the land occupied by Kelo and her neighbors. Because of the money the facility would pump into the local economy, the city council decided that it was in the “public interest” to build the facility and decided to acquire the land through their eminent domain authority.
It was a controversial move on the part of the city. Up until then, eminent domain had only been used to acquire land for public uses, such as building highways and installing drainage pipes. What New London was doing was seizing private property so it could be used by a private, for profit, corporation.
Kelo led the legal fight against the land grab, taking her case all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Then, in 2005, in a decision that sparked outrage across the nation, the Supreme Court sided with the city against Kelo and her neighbors.
A Call to Action
The ruling was a call to action for property owners across the nation. Many states, Texas included, responded to the decision by changing their eminent domain laws to protect property owners against government abuse.
To make the situation even more tragic, Pfizer ultimately decided not to construct the New London facility. The neighborhood that Kelo and the rest of the property owners called home is now empty and abandoned.
Get Help From Texas Eminent Domain Lawyers
Property owners often invest a lot more than money in their home and land. It’s important for Texas eminent domain attorneys to take into account this human cost when they represent a property owner facing a condemnation action. Kelo’s little pink house should serve as an inspiration to fight the good fight against the threat of government overreach in eminent domain actions.
If you are a Texas property owner who is facing losing your land through eminent domain, always remember that you have rights. Don’t sign any agreements until you’ve had a chance to speak to the Texas property rights attorneys at Dawson & Sodd. Let us put our experience to work protecting your property. We can determine if the agency trying to buy your land really has eminent domain authority in Texas, consult experts to determine if the project is needed or not, and ensure you get the full value for your property.