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Just Compensation

Equitable remuneration to the owner of private property that is expropriated for public use through condemnation, the implementation of the governmental power of EMINENT DOMAIN.

The FIFTH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution proscribes the taking of private property by the government for public use without just compensation. No precise formula exists by which the elements of just compensation can be calculated. Ordinarily, the amount should be based upon the loss to the owner, as opposed to the gain by the taker. The owner should be fairly and fully indemnified for the damage that he or she has sustained. The owner has a right to recover the monetary equivalent of the property taken and is entitled to be put in as good a financial position as he or she would have been in if the property had not been taken. Generally, the measure of damages for property condemned through eminent domain is its fair market value, since the sentimental value to the owner is not an element for consideration. Market value, however, is not an absolute method of valuation but rather a practical standard to aid the courts in their determination of just compensation based upon constitutional requirements.

When just compensation is assessed, all elements that can appropriately enter into the question of value are regarded. For example, the original cost of the property taken, added to the cost of reproduction or replacement, minus depreciation, can be considered when the market value of property is determined.

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