Eminent Domain and Condemnation

Move over Erin Brockovich and make way for the “Little Pink House!” Another real-life heroine has come to the big screen in the form of a working-class woman determined to save her cottage-style house in New London, CT. Based on a true story, the movie stars Catherine Keener as Susette Kelo and focuses on her attempts to save her house from eminent domain. Kelo took her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I walked in this house, and this feeling I have to say of being here all my life came upon me,” Kelo said in an interview with Megan Kelly on the Today Show. Kelo bought the property in the 1990s and one year after fixing it up and painting it pink, a real estate agent representing the developer tried to buy it from her. “They said that they were acquiring the properties in light of a development. They came once, and I said I wasn’t interested. Then they came again, and I pretty much told them not to come back,” said Kelo.

Details and Allegations Surrounding the Susette Kelo v. City of New London Eminent Domain Case

New Movie Exposes Alleged Abuse of Power of Eminent Domain | Denver Eminent Domain and Condemnation Attorney

New Movie Exposes Alleged Abuse of Power of Eminent Domain | Denver Eminent Domain and Condemnation Attorney

The following details and allegations were gathered in recent news reports:2

  • Susette Kelo, a former paramedic, became the main plaintiff in the biggest eminent domain and condemnation case involving property rights in recent history.
  • The case stemmed out of a comprehensive redevelopment plan by the city of New London, which called for the condemnation of many private homes.
  • The city claimed it needed to vacate and bulldoze the neighborhood, so that it could bring in more tax revenue from the future development.
  • Kelo and others sued the city of New London in the Supreme Court of Connecticut claiming it had abused its eminent domain power.
  • The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Eminent domain’s power come from the taking clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Many legal scholars were shocked that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city’s land grab, and ignoring the Constitution’s intended meaning and common sense.
  • Kelo’s defeat only strengthened her resolve to fight back against what many believed was an injustice, and she spearheaded a nation-wide campaign to enact laws in all states to protect neighborhoods like hers’ from allegedly abusive eminent domain powers and activist courts.
  • In Colorado, the Kelo Law is not as strong in its powers as in other states, and only earned a grade of “C” from the Institute for Justice.

What Are Colorado’s Eminent Domain Laws?

Here are some of Colorado’s eminent domain laws broken down that are found in Title 38 of the Colorado revised statutes (C.R.S. 38-1-101).

  • The condemning authority must act in good faith for the purpose of taking property for a public purpose.
  • The property owner must be offered or given fair compensation after due process. The fair market value is determined by a commission made up of impartial landowners or jury at the landowner’s discretion.
  • The condemning authorities must issue a notice of intent before starting a condemnation lawsuit.
  • If the estimated value of the land is valued at more than $5,000, the landowner can request an appraisal be conducted at the condemning authorities expense. The landowner has 90 days to request such an appraisal.
  • After reviewing the appraisals, and if no negotiation can be reached, then the condemning authority must issue a final offer.
  • If no settlement is reached, the condemning authority must subpoena the landowner and file a complaint in court.
  • The landowner has the right to choose a jury of his/her peers, or a commission of impartial landowners to come up with a land value suitable for the landowner.
  • The landowner and their attorney are allowed to view discovery and summons witnesses before trial.

Contact a Denver Eminent Domain and Condemnation Attorney at Downey & Associates, PC

If you have been offered money for your property, because a condemning authority plans to build over it, you should retain the help of an experienced Denver Eminent Domain and Condemnation Attorney with Downey & Associates, PC. If the condemning authority’s plans are for anything other than a public use, then we can help you get the justice you deserve. For a free, initial consultation, call us today at 303-813-1111 or send us an e-mail.


1“This Woman’s ‘Little Pink House’ Was Taken Away by The Government” published in NBC’s Nightly News, April 2018.

2“New film shows eminent domain gone wrong” published in the Denver Post, May 2018.

May 15, 2018

Move over Erin Brockovich and make way for the “Little Pink House!” Another real-life heroine ... Read more