The Desmond firm has specialized in eminent domain since 1938. We represent property owners, tenants, and business owners in eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases against the government. Our firm is recognized as a preeminent leader in eminent domain / condemnation and inverse condemnation law. Our firm and attorneys have received numerous awards, been consulted on jury instructions, statutory drafting, and testified in front of the legislature to protect private property rights.

Our representation of property owners includes cases where the government is taking an easement, the entire property, or a portion of the property for projects related to:

  • gas lines;
  • rail projects (including the California High Speed Rail);
  • water conveyance (including the Bay Delta Conservation Plan / peripheral canal);
  • levee repairs and construction (including the Natomas Levee Improvement Program by SAFCA, the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Program, and the Feather River West Levee Project by SBFCA);
  • transportation projects;
  • highway bypasses;
  • interchanges;
  • schools;
  • sewer systems;
  • power transmission; and
  • parks

Client Representation

We are committed to property rights and holding the government to our Constitutional protections. No property or case is too big or too small. Each and every property owner who is faced with an eminent domain action has the same constitutional rights and is equally important to us. Eminent domain is a specialized area of law that is unique from all other practice areas. Our experience in eminent domain allows us to navigate this complex area of the law to ensure each and every property and business owner is given the best chance for success. We make sure our representation and efforts make economic sense, so our clients are able to pursue their goals. Our priority of putting the needs and goals of clients first, together with our winning results, has kept our eminent domain practice thriving for nearly 80 years.

Our Work

Our representation of property owners has ranged from representing the owners of over 17,000 acres to owners of less than an acre. We have handled cases where the amount of just compensation at issue was over $100 million. We have represented clients who were offered $500 by the government, and after trial the client was awarded nearly $1,400,000. We analyze each and every case to ensure you receive just compensation as required by the constitution, and your property rights are protected from government overreach and unconstitutional interference. DNLC also has significant experience representing business owners in cases involving business valuation, loss of goodwill, and relocation benefits.

The Desmond firm successfully represented thousands of property owners after the 1986 flood in Linda, Yuba County, California. This inverse condemnation action resulted in the seminal case of Paterno v. State of California, where the government was required to pay $464 million in damages. Our experience in inverse condemnation is vast and varied. We have represented thousands after a flood to a single owner of property damaged by the government’s action.

We have also successfully fought the government’s right to take our clients’ properties and businesses.

Firm and Attorney Recognition

Our firm’s eminent domain department has achieved the following recognitions:

  • U.S. News and World Report – one of the Best Law Firms in eminent domain;
  • Gary Livaich is a “Super Lawyer” in eminent domain and is rated AV – Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell (which reflects a “Very High General Ethical Standard” and and a rating of Preeminent for the attorney’s Legal Ability);
  • Brian Manning is a “Rising Star” in eminent domain, authored published material on eminent domain practice, and has received Best Lawyer Firm recognition by US News and World Reports;
  • Our attorneys are members of the Condemnation Attorneys Group;
  • Attorneys from our firm have worked with the California Judicial Commission to refine jury instructions to protect and enforce property owners’ Constitutional rights; and
  • Sacramento Magazine – Best Lawyers – Eminent Domain.

Then and Now

  • Senator Earl D. Desmond and E. Vayne Miller started the eminent domain practice in 1938
  • Richard Desmond continued the eminent domain practice for over 50 years.
  • Gary Livaich, has carried on the Desmond tradition for nearly 35 years.
  • Today, Mr. Livaich, Brian Manning, and Kristen Ditlevsen Renfro work together on all eminent domain cases.