Nevada Assembly approves bill on eminent domain claims
April 15, 2003
The Nevada Assembly voted unanimously Monday for a bill prohibiting courts from imposing legal fees on people who challenge the amount governments offer them for their seized property.
Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said making people pay a government entity’s legal fees if they lose in court inhibits their due process rights.
“I believe this is a penalty that violates the constitution because you’re constitutionally allowed to make such a challenge,” Horne said in urging approval of his AB397.
When a governmental entity exercises its right of eminent domain and takes someone’s property, that person is guaranteed a right to fair compensation for the property, he added.
If the government and the property owner can’t reach an agreement on the fair market value, the case goes to court. If the citizen loses in court, the judge can make that person pay the government’s legal fees — which can reach into six figures.
Horne said the threat of stiff legal fees pressures homeowners to settle for less money than they think their property is really worth.
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The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.