On January 21, 2020, the United States of America confirmed the first reported case of the Coronavirus (a.k.a., COVID-19) in Washington State. On February 29, 2020, the first American died due to COVID-19 near Seattle. On March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump officially declared a national emergency. On April 1, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis ordered numerous government closures throughout the State of Florida. As a direct consequence of the government closures due to COVID-19, many property owners and/or business owners were absolutely crippled, losing significant amounts of money with some even going out of business. Now, the State of Florida is reopening with certain, specified guidelines in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. But what about all of that lost revenue? Can the government “take” my property without compensating me for it? No, not in America.
Inverse condemnation is a cause of action which springs forth from Article X, § 6(a) of the Florida Constitution. All that is required in order to have a successful claim is to assert and prove the following elements: (1) a governmental regulation (2) substantially interferes (3) with real (not personal) property rights (4) for more than a momentary period (5) by and for a public body (i.e., government) (6) that results in a substantial (although not necessarily total) deprivation of beneficial use or value of those property rights.
The COVID-19 closures were done pursuant to the different governments’ police powers. A government exercises its police powers when it enacts a regulation to protect the health, safety or welfare of its citizens. Pursuant to his police powers, Governor Ron DeSantis did what he thought was the best thing to do to protect his citizens at the time, and we applaud him for it.
However, it is a fundamental aspect of American jurisprudence, contained within Article X, § 6(a), Florida Constitution, that an affected property owner must be made whole by the governmental entity responsible for the loss(es) he/she suffered during the period when they were unable to utilize their property. These property interests (i.e., property owner, business leasing space, etc.) must be fully compensated. Depending on the facts, full compensation may mean: (1) fair market value, (2) value in use, (3) special purpose value or (4) any of a range of severance and special damages. Full compensation also includes reimbursement for the owner’s attorneys’ fees and costs.
The full-service law firm of Bogin, Munns & Munns, P.A. is currently helping clients negatively impacted by COVID-19. If you think you may have an inverse condemnation claim, please contact us at 855-729-5181 so that we can start helping you today.
– For more information, call Andrew Lannon of the Orlando, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 855-729-5181, where he practices in the areas of Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Eminent Domain, Land Use, Local Government, and Real Estate Development Law.
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.