California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3500. Introductory Instruction

Public agencies such as the [name of condemnor] have the right to take private property for public use if they pay the owner just compensation.

Sources and Authority

Article I, section 19, of the California Constitution provides: "Private property may be taken or damaged for public use only when just compensation, ascertained by a jury unless waived, has first been paid to, or into court for, the owner. The Legislature may provide for possession by the condemnor following commencement of eminent domain proceedings upon deposit in court and prompt release to the owner of money determined by the court to be the probable amount of just compensation."

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides, in part: "[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Code of Civil Procedure section 1240.010 provides: "The power of eminent domain may be exercised to acquire property only for a public use. Where the Legislature provides by statute that a use, purpose, object, or function is one for which the power of eminent domain may be exercised, such action is deemed to be a declaration by the Legislature that such use, purpose, object, or function is a public use."

"The power of eminent domain arises as an inherent attribute of sovereignty that is necessary for government to exist. Properly exercised, the eminent domain power effects a compromise between the public good for which private land is taken, and the protection and indemnification of private citizens whose property is taken to advance that public good. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, and California Constitution, article I, section 19 require this protection of private citizens' property." (Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority v. Hensler (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 556, 561 [99 Cal.Rptr.2d 729], internal citation omitted.)

" 'An inverse condemnation action is an eminent domain proceeding initiated by the property owner rather than the condemner. The rinciples which affect the parties' rights in an inverse condemnation suit are the same as those in an eminent domain action.' " (Customer Co. v. City of Sacramento (1995) 10 Cal.4th 368, 377, fn. 4 [41 Cal.Rptr.2d 658, 895 P.2d 900], internal citations omitted.)

"The principle sought to be achieved by this concept 'is to reimburse the owner for the property interest taken and to place the owner in as good a position pecuniarily as if the property had not been taken.' " (Redevelopment Agency of the City of Long Beach v. First Christian Church of Long Beach (1983) 140 Cal.App.3d 690, 705 [189 Cal.Rptr. 749], internal citation omitted, disapproved on other grounds in Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority v. Continental Development Corp. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 694, 720-721 [66 Cal.Rptr.2d 630].)

The only issue for the jury is valuation; all others are tried by the court. (People v. Ricciardi (1943) 23 Cal.2d 390, 402 [144 P.2d 799].)

"While article I, section 14 [now 19], of the California Constitution guarantees a jury trial in condemnation cases on the issue of the defendant's damages, this is the only issue to be decided by the jury; all other issues of law or fact must be decided by the court." (Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Peterson (1969) 270 Cal.App.2d 434, 438 [75 Cal.Rptr. 673], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

8 Witkin, Summary of California Law (9th ed. 1988) Constitutional Law, §§ 1009, 1015

1 Condemnation Practice in California (Cont.Ed.Bar 2005) § 4.1

1 Nichols on Eminent Domain, Ch. 1, The Nature, Origin, Evolution and Characteristics of the Power, §§ 1.1, 1.11 (Matthew Bender)

20 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Chapter 247, Eminent Domain (Matthew Bender)

(New September 2003)