By A.J. Hazarabedian

Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District received a favorable verdict in a case involving a right to take action.  Property owner, John O’Doherty was challenging the water district’s right to take a portion of Third Street for a water pumping station.

The verdict was discussed in a recent Press-Enterprise article, “Judge rules in favor of Elsinore Valley water district in eminent domain case.” It appears that the water district did not actually acquire Mr. O’Doherty’s property; rather, the property they did acquire would, according to O’Doherty, “[limit] access to [the] property he owns near Third and Collier, [diminish] the value of the property and [increase] the potential for flooding on the land.”  Mr. O’Doherty sought $768,000 in damages from the water district and challenged their right to use the property.

The result: Riverside County Superior Court Judge Peter L. Spinetta ruled “that the water district had the right to take and use a portion of Third Street near Collier Avenue for the station and that the project was more necessary than the road being used as a footpath or for vehicle traffic.”

As we discuss in our “California Eminent Domain Handbook,” successful challenges to the government’s right to take a particular property are the exception, not the rule, and usually result only in a delay, rather than outright prevention of the government’s right to take.  Each case must be evaluated on its own facts and experienced eminent domain counsel should be consulted.