The Desmond firm has been specializing in eminent domain since 1938. Today, we continue representing property owners, tenants, and business owners in eminent domain and inverse condemnation cases. Our firm is recognized as a preeminent leader in eminent domain / condemnation and inverse condemnation law.

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:

  • 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;
  • gas lines; and
  • parks


No property or case is too big or too small. Each and every eminent domain action is equally important.

Our representation of property owners has ranged from representing the owners of over 17,000 acres to the 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 a jury trial the client was awarded nearly $1,400,000. DNLC also has significant experience representing business owners in cases involving business valuation, loss of goodwill, and relocation benefits.

The Desmond firm successfully represented and tried an inverse condemnation case on behalf of thousands of property owners after the 1986 flood in Linda, Yuba County, California. This 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

We are committed to property rights and holding the government to our Constitutional protections. 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 has been named 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);
  • Our attorneys are members of the Condemnation Attorneys Group; and
  • Attorneys from our firm have worked with the California Judicial Commission to refine jury instructions to protect and enforce property owners’ Constitutional rights.

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.