The Virginia Eminent Domain Group at Blankingship & Keith

Welcome to the Virginia Eminent Domain Group at Blankingship & Keith, P.C. We are among the most experienced eminent domain lawyers in Virginia, having handled many hundreds of cases over the last three decades. Best Lawyers in America ranked Blankingship & Keith, P.C. as #1 in Virginia for many years, with the firm recently receiving a Tier 1 Ranking from Best Lawyers in Metropolitan Washington D.C.  For the second time Paul Terpak was named Best Lawyers' 2016 Washington D.C. Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law Lawyer of the Year (he previously received this designation in 2012), and Paul has been listed in Virginia Super Lawyers in the area of Eminent Domain for many years. Paul is the Editor of the standard handbook on Virginia law, "Eminent Domain Law in Virginia" (2012). In 2002 Paul was selected by the Virginia Code Commission to serve on the advisory committee which produced a complete recodification of all Virginia statutes on eminent domain.

The Eminent Domain Group has long and extensive experience in the trial of eminent domain cases and always seeks to maximize the just compensation due under the Constitution when the government takes property. The firm has won many of the highest condemnation awards in Virginia, but trial is not always the best solution and the group is always willing to consider a fair settlement or an "out of the box" solution to achieve the client's goals. Recent settlements include the unprecedented $84 million purchase by VDOT of the Hunting Towers apartment complex near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Alexandria. In an imaginative solution, Paul convinced Virginia Power to redesign a gas pipeline in a manner originally thought impossible to preserve development access to over 1000 acres on the Potomac River in Prince William County. Condemnors recognize the firm's expertise, and Gifford Hampshire and Paul Terpak were recently hired by Stafford County to represent it in the 3000 acre Crows Nest condemnation case, the largest sized condemnation in Virginia in over a decade.

Besides handling the largest and most complex cases in Virginia, the group has handled all types and sizes of takings from homes, businesses and farms. Our team includes Kevin DeTurris, who has been named by Super Lawyers® as a rising star for 2013 and 2014.  Kevin has litigated hundreds of eminent domain cases, primarily on behalf of condemning authorities.  He brings a wealth of experience and the insight of how these matters are viewed from the other side.  Gifford Hampshire, formerly of the Prince William County Attorneys Office, won a landmark case for compensation to the County from the federal government arising from the expansion of Manassas Battlefield Park. Giff is the author of the chapter on Regulatory Takings in "Eminent Domain Law in Virginia".  Other associates add the horsepower to handle any size case. Finally, Hugo Blankingship, rightly called the Dean of Virginia eminent domain attorneys, remains available to add his wise counsel. We hope we can be of help to you.

Precondemnation Planning

If you know a condemnation may be coming, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Maintain the property in good condition as if you were preparing to sell it. The valuation process in a condemnation is designed to simulate a fair market sale. Anything which increases or reduces value may become evidence in the case.
  2. Save all documents regarding the condemnation, including public notices, letters, e-mails, and other communications.
  3. Take pictures of the property before the condemnation. Pictures and videos may become very important evidence about the value of your property at trial. Condemnation juries travel to your property and view the property taken during the trial, but the project may have already been built and your home or business destroyed prior to trial.
  4. Do not file any real estate tax appeals. Any low value you put on the property, including in a real estate tax appeal, may be used against you at trial. Also, be careful if you place a value on the property in any other document like a financial statement.
  5. Maintain all government approvals regarding the use of your property. Even if you know property is heading toward condemnation, do not let any legal nonconforming uses lapse. If you were otherwise intending to pursue government approvals to enhance the use of your property, continue to do so in the normal course in consultation with your condemnation team.
  6. Don't sign anything presented by a condemnor, especially a right of early entry or an option agreement. These documents may give the government the right to enter onto your property without immediately paying just compensation as required by law.
  7. Do consult an experienced eminent domain attorney. Condemnation law is complex. There are many pitfalls for the unwary landowner or lawyer.

Important: lawyer case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer.