THE 2017 FLORIDA STATUTES
TITLE VI
CIVIL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 73
EMINENT DOMAIN

 

73.091 Costs of the proceedings.—

(1) The petitioner shall pay attorney’s fees as provided in s. 73.092 as well as all reasonable costs incurred in the defense of the proceedings in the circuit court, including, but not limited to, reasonable appraisal fees and, when business damages are compensable, a reasonable accountant’s fee, to be assessed by that court. No prejudgment interest shall be paid on costs or attorney’s fees.

(2) At least 30 days prior to a hearing to assess costs under this section, the condemnee’s attorney shall submit to the condemning authority for each expert witness complete time records and a detailed statement of services rendered by date, nature of services performed, time spent performing such services, and costs incurred, and a copy of any fee agreement which may exist between the expert and the condemnee or the condemnee’s attorney.

(3) In assessing costs, the court shall consider all factors relevant to the reasonableness of the costs, including, but not limited to, the fees paid to similar experts retained in the case by the condemning authority or other parties and the reasonable costs of similar services by similarly qualified persons.

(4) In assessing costs to be paid by the petitioner, the court shall be guided by the amount the defendant would ordinarily have been expected to pay for the services rendered if the petitioner were not responsible for the costs.

(5) The court shall make specific findings that justify each sum awarded as an expert witness fee.

THE 2017 FLORIDA STATUTES
TITLE VI
CIVIL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 73
EMINENT DOMAIN

73.092 Attorney’s fees.—

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section and s. 73.015, the court, in eminent domain proceedings, shall award attorney’s fees based solely on the benefits achieved for the client.

(a) As used in this section, the term “benefits” means the difference, exclusive of interest, between the final judgment or settlement and the last written offer made by the condemning authority before the defendant hires an attorney. If no written offer is made by the condemning authority before the defendant hires an attorney, benefits must be measured from the first written offer after the attorney is hired.

1. In determining attorney’s fees, if business records as defined in s. 73.015(2)(c)2. and kept by the owner in the ordinary course of business were provided to the condemning authority to substantiate the business damage offer in s. 73.015(2)(c), benefits for amounts awarded for business damages must be based on the difference between the final judgment or settlement and the written counteroffer made by the condemning authority provided in s. 73.015(2)(d).

2. In determining attorney’s fees, if existing business records as defined in s. 73.015(2)(c)2. and kept by the owner in the ordinary course of business were not provided to the condemning authority to substantiate the business damage offer in s. 73.015(2)(c) and those records which were not provided are later deemed material to the determination of business damages, benefits for amounts awarded for business damages must be based upon the difference between the final judgment or settlement and the first written counteroffer made by the condemning authority within 90 days from the condemning authority’s receipt of the business records previously not provided.

(b) The court may also consider nonmonetary benefits obtained for the client through the efforts of the attorney, to the extent such nonmonetary benefits are specifically identified by the court and can, within a reasonable degree of certainty, be quantified.

(c) Attorney’s fees based on benefits achieved shall be awarded in accordance with the following schedule:

1. Thirty-three percent of any benefit up to $250,000; plus

2. Twenty-five percent of any portion of the benefit between $250,000 and $1 million; plus

3. Twenty percent of any portion of the benefit exceeding $1 million.

(2) In assessing attorney’s fees incurred in defeating an order of taking, or for apportionment, or other supplemental proceedings, when not otherwise provided for, the court shall consider:

(a) The novelty, difficulty, and importance of the questions involved.

(b) The skill employed by the attorney in conducting the cause.

(c) The amount of money involved.

(d) The responsibility incurred and fulfilled by the attorney.

(e) The attorney’s time and labor reasonably required adequately to represent the client in relation to the benefits resulting to the client.

(f) The fee, or rate of fee, customarily charged for legal services of a comparable or similar nature.

(g) Any attorney’s fee award made under subsection (1).

(3) In determining the amount of attorney’s fees to be paid by the petitioner under subsection (2), the court shall be guided by the fees the defendant would ordinarily be expected to pay for these services if the petitioner were not responsible for the payment of those fees.

(4) At least 30 days prior to a hearing to assess attorney’s fees under subsection (2), the condemnee’s attorney shall submit to the condemning authority and to the court complete time records and a detailed statement of services rendered by date, nature of services performed, time spent performing such services, and costs incurred.

(5) The defendant shall provide to the court a copy of any fee agreement that may exist between the defendant and his or her attorney, and the court must reduce the amount of attorney’s fees to be paid by the defendant by the amount of any attorney’s fees awarded by the court.

 

THE 2017 FLORIDA STATUTES
TITLE VI
CIVIL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 73
EMINENT DOMAIN

 

73.015 Presuitnegotiation.—

(1) Effective July 1, 2000, before an eminent domain proceeding is brought under this chapter or chapter 74, the condemning authority must attempt to negotiate in good faith with the fee owner of the parcel to be acquired, must provide the fee owner with a written offer and, if requested, a copy of the appraisal upon which the offer is based, and must attempt to reach an agreement regarding the amount of compensation to be paid for the parcel.

(a) No later than the time the initial written or oral offer of compensation for acquisition is made to the fee owner, the condemning authority must notify the fee owner of the following:

1. That all or a portion of his or her property is necessary for a project.

2. The nature of the project for which the parcel is considered necessary, and the parcel designation of the property to be acquired.

3. That, within 15 business days after receipt of a request by the fee owner, the condemning authority will provide a copy of the appraisal report upon which the offer to the fee owner is based; copies, to the extent prepared, of the right-of-way maps or other documents that depict the proposed taking; and copies, to the extent prepared, of the construction plans that depict project improvements to be constructed on the property taken and improvements to be constructed adjacent to the remaining property, including, but not limited to, plan, profile, cross-section, drainage, and pavement marking sheets, and driveway connection detail. The condemning authority shall provide any additional plan sheets within 15 days of request.

4. The fee owner’s statutory rights under ss. 73.091 and 73.092, or alternatively provide copies of these provisions of law.

5. The fee owner’s rights and responsibilities under paragraphs (b) and (c) and subsection (4), or alternatively provide copies of these provisions of law.

(b) The condemning authority must provide a written offer of compensation to the fee owner as to the value of the property sought to be appropriated and, where less than the entire property is sought to be appropriated, any damages to the remainder caused by the taking. The owner must be given at least 30 days after either receipt of the notice or the date the notice is returned as undeliverable by the postal authorities to respond to the offer, before the condemning authority files a condemnation proceeding for the parcel identified in the offer.

(c) The notice and written offer must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the fee owner’s last known address listed on the county ad valorem tax roll. Alternatively, the notice and written offer may be personally delivered to the fee owner of the property. If there is more than one owner of a property, notice to one owner constitutes notice to all owners of the property. The return of the notice as undeliverable by the postal authorities constitutes compliance with this provision. The condemning authority is not required to give notice or a written offer to a person who acquires title to the property after the notice required by this section has been given.

(d) Notwithstanding this subsection, with respect to lands acquired under s. 253.025, the condemning authority is not required to give the fee owner the current appraisal before executing an option contract.

(2) Effective July 1, 2000, before an eminent domain proceeding is brought under this chapter or chapter 74 by the Department of Transportation or by a county, municipality, board, district, or other public body for the condemnation of right-of-way, the condemning authority must make a good faith effort to notify the business owners, including lessees, who operate a business located on the property to be acquired.

(a) The condemning authority must notify the business owner of the following:

1. That all or a portion of his or her property is necessary for a project.

2. The nature of the project for which the parcel is considered necessary, and the parcel designation of the property to be acquired.

3. That, within 15 business days after receipt of a request by the business owner, the condemning authority will provide a copy of the appraisal report upon which the offer to the fee owner is based; copies, to the extent prepared, of the right-of-way maps or other documents that depict the proposed taking; and copies, to the extent prepared, of the construction plans that depict project improvements to be constructed on the property taken and improvements to be constructed adjacent to the remaining property, including, but not limited to, plan, profile, cross-section, drainage, pavement marking sheets, and driveway connection detail. The condemning authority shall provide any additional plan sheets within 15 days of request.

4. The business owner’s statutory rights under ss. 73.071, 73.091, and 73.092.

5. The business owner’s rights and responsibilities under paragraphs (b) and (c) and subsection (4).

(b) The notice must be made subsequent to or concurrent with the condemning authority’s making the written offer of compensation to the fee owner pursuant to subsection (1). The notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address of the registered agent for the business located on the property to be acquired, or if no agent is registered, by certified mail or personal delivery to the address of the business located on the property to be acquired. Notice to one owner of a multiple ownership business constitutes notice to all business owners of that business. The return of the notice as undeliverable by the postal authorities constitutes compliance with these provisions. The condemning authority is not required to give notice to a person who acquires an interest in the business after the notice required by this section has been given. Once notice has been made to business owners under this subsection, the condemning authority may file a condemnation proceeding pursuant to chapter 73 or chapter 74 for the property identified in the notice.

(c) If the business qualifies for business damages pursuant to s. 73.071(3)(b) and the business intends to claim business damages, the business owner must, within 180 days after either receipt of the notice or the date the notice is returned as undeliverable by the postal authorities, or at a later time mutually agreed to by the condemning authority and the business owner, submit to the condemning authority a good faith written offer to settle any claims of business damage. The written offer must be sent to the condemning authority by certified mail, return receipt requested. Absent a showing of a good faith justification for the failure to submit a business damage offer within 180 days, the court must strike the business owner’s claim for business damages in any condemnation proceeding. If the court finds that the business owner has made a showing of a good faith justification for the failure to timely submit a business damage offer, the court shall grant the business owner up to 180 days within which to submit a business damage offer, which the condemning authority must respond to within 120 days.

1. The business damage offer must include an explanation of the nature, extent, and monetary amount of such damage and must be prepared by the owner, a certified public accountant, or a business damage expert familiar with the nature of the operations of the owner’s business. The business owner shall also provide to the condemning authority copies of the owner’s business records that substantiate the good faith offer to settle the business damage claim. If additional information is needed beyond data that may be obtained from business records existing at the time of the offer, the business owner and condemning authority may agree on a schedule for the submission of such information.

2. As used in this paragraph, the term “business records” includes, but is not limited to, copies of federal income tax returns, federal income tax withholding statements, federal miscellaneous income tax statements, state sales tax returns, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and state corporate income tax returns for the 5 years preceding notification which are attributable to the business operation on the property to be acquired, and other records relied upon by the business owner that substantiate the business damage claim.

(d) Within 120 days after receipt of the good faith business damage offer and accompanying business records, the condemning authority must, by certified mail, accept or reject the business owner’s offer or make a counteroffer. Failure of the condemning authority to respond to the business damage offer, or rejection thereof pursuant to this section, must be deemed to be a counteroffer of zero dollars for purposes of subsequent application of s. 73.092(1).

(3) At any time in the presuit negotiation process, the parties may agree to submit the compensation or business damage claims to nonbinding mediation. The parties shall agree upon a mediator certified under s. 44.102. In the event that there is a settlement reached as a result of mediation or other mutually acceptable dispute resolution procedure, the agreement reached shall be in writing. The written agreement provided for in this section shall incorporate by reference the right-of-way maps, construction plans, or other documents related to the taking upon which the settlement is based. In the event of a settlement, both parties shall have the same legal rights that would have been available under law if the matter had been resolved through eminent domain proceedings in circuit court with the maps, plans, or other documents having been made a part of the record.

(4) If a settlement is reached between the condemning authority and a property or business owner prior to a lawsuit being filed, the property or business owner who settles compensation claims in lieu of condemnation shall be entitled to recover costs in the same manner as provided in s. 73.091 and attorney’s fees in the same manner as provided in s. 73.092, more specifically as follows:

(a) Attorney’s fees for presuit negotiations under this section regarding the amount of compensation to be paid for the land, severance damages, and improvements must be calculated in the same manner as provided in s. 73.092(1) unless the parties otherwise agree.

(b) If business damages are recovered by the business owner based on the condemning authority accepting the business owner’s initial offer or the business owner accepting the condemning authority’s initial counteroffer, attorney’s fees must be calculated in accordance with s. 73.092(2), (3), (4), and (5) for the attorney’s time incurred in presentation of the business owner’s good faith offer under paragraph (2)(c). Otherwise, attorney’s fees for the award of business damages must be calculated as provided in s. 73.092(1), based on the difference between the final judgment or settlement of business damages and the counteroffer to the business owner’s offer by the condemning authority.

(c) Presuit costs must be presented, calculated, and awarded in the same manner as provided in s. 73.091, after submission by the business or property owner to the condemning authority of all appraisal reports, business damage reports, or other work products for which recovery is sought, and upon transfer of title of the real property by closing, upon payment of any amounts due for business damages, or upon final judgment.

(d) If the parties cannot agree on the amount of costs and attorney’s fees to be paid by the condemning authority, the business or property owner may file a complaint in the circuit court in the county in which the property is located to recover attorney’s fees and costs.

This shall only apply when the action is by the Department of Transportation, county, municipality, board, district, or other public body for the condemnation of a road right-of-way.

(5) Evidence of negotiations or of any written or oral statements used in mediation or negotiations between the parties under this section is inadmissible in any condemnation proceeding, except in a proceeding to determine reasonable costs and attorney’s fees.